Particular Beauties

By Howard Moss 1922–1987 Howard Moss
Whether it was a particular beauty
Stirred the tearfall from the eyelid’s rim,
Rinsing the world once more with self,
Was it not there the general peered,
Thousand-eyed, down from the peak
In the last of all imaginary sunsets?
The light divided in half, the half
Divided again in half, the way
Zeno’s paradox makes nothing move
Because an infinity of points between
Target and arrow, though never seen,
Exists. And there is snow in a capsule,
A solid floor of individual
Flakes that, shaken, settle in a field—
Parachutists growing where the grass,
One moment before, was only natural.
I am speaking now of the diminishment
Or enhancement of enchanted objects,
Of how they turn into nothingness
Or burnish the imagination:
A fire at the bottom of the sea,
For instance, or a mind in space
Thinking its way into science fiction,
Or, inside the skull, a little world
Clinging, about to be thrown away—
Miraculous lint under a bell.

Howard Moss, “Particular Beauties” from New Selected Poems, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1985 by Howard Moss. Reprinted by permission of Estate of Howard Moss.

Source: New Selected Poems (Atheneum Publishers, 1985)

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Poet Howard Moss 1922–1987

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries

 Howard  Moss


Howard Moss was the poetry editor of the New Yorker for almost forty years. In that influential capacity, this quiet, unassuming man was one of the key figures in American letters in the late twentieth century, boosting the careers of many young poets by publishing their work in one of the few mass circulation magazines which bought poetry and paid well for it. Writing in World Literature Today, Ashley Brown observed that "it . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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