Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting

By Rita Dove b. 1952 Rita Dove

Elizabeth, The Lodge at Woodstock, 1554

 
Less than the charting of each dawn’s resolutions,
less than each evening’s trickle of doubt,
less than a crown’s weight in silver, a diamond’s                  
scratch against glass, less than the touted
 
ill luck of my rich beginnings—and yet
more than Eve’s silence, my mute ingratitude.
More than music’s safe passage, its rapturous net,
more than this stockpile of words, their liquid solicitude; 
         
more desired than praise (the least-prized of my dreams),
less real than dreaming (castle keep for my sins),
more than no more, which seems
much less than hoped-for, again—
 
one mutiny, quelled; one wish lost, a forgotten treasure:
to live without scrutiny, beyond constant measure.

Rita Dove, “Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting” from Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries, published by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Copyright © 2012 by Rita Dove. Reprinted by permission of Rita Dove.

Source: Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries (Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012)

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Poet Rita Dove b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Persona, Sonnet

 Rita  Dove

Biography

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, the daughter of one of the first black chemists in the tire industry. Dove was encouraged to read widely by her parents, and excelled in school. She was named a Presidential Scholar, one of the top one hundred high-school graduates in the country and attended Miami University in Ohio as a National Merit Scholar. After graduating, Dove received a Fulbright to study at the University of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Persona, Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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