Ceremony

By Richard Wilbur b. 1921 Richard Wilbur
A striped blouse in a clearing by Bazille   
Is, you may say, a patroness of boughs   
Too queenly kind toward nature to be kin.   
But ceremony never did conceal,
Save to the silly eye, which all allows,
How much we are the woods we wander in.

Let her be some Sabrina fresh from stream,
Lucent as shallows slowed by wading sun,
Bedded on fern, the flowers’ cynosure:
Then nymph and wood must nod and strive to dream   
That she is airy earth, the trees, undone,
Must ape her languor natural and pure.

Ho-hum. I am for wit and wakefulness,   
And love this feigning lady by Bazille.   
What's lightly hid is deepest understood,   
And when with social smile and formal dress   
She teaches leaves to curtsey and quadrille,   
I think there are most tigers in the wood.

Richard Wilbur, “Ceremony” from Collected Poems 1943-2004. Copyright © 2004 by Richard Wilbur. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Poetry (February 1948).

 Richard  Wilbur

Biography

Richard Wilbur “is a poet for all of us, whose elegant words brim with wit and paradox,” announced Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin when the poet succeeded Robert Penn Warren to become the second poet laureate of the United States. Wilbur won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his collection Things of This World: Poems in 1957 and a second Pulitzer for New and Collected Poems. He has won the Wallace Stevens . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Painting & Sculpture, Theater & Dance, Animals, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Ekphrasis

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