From a Window

By Christian Wiman b. 1966 Christian Wiman
Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man's mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

Christian Wiman, "From a Window" from Every Riven Thing. Copyright © 2011 by Christian Wiman.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Source: Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)

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Poet Christian Wiman b. 1966

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, translator, editor, and essayist Christian Wiman was raised in West Texas and earned a BA at Washington and Lee University. He received an honorary doctorate from North Central College.
 
Making use of—and at times gently disassembling—musical and metrical structures, Wiman often explores themes of spiritual faith and doubt in his spare, precise poems. Praising Wiman’s “ear for silence” in a review of Every Riven Thing for . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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