The Beautiful

By Roddy Lumsden b. 1966 Roddy Lumsden
Into perplexity: as an itch chased round   
an oxter or early man in the cave mouth   
watching rain-drifts pour from beyond   

his understanding. Whether to admire   
the mere sensation, enough, or hold out   
for sweeter ornament, vessels of wonder   

born with that ur-charm of symmetry;   
lovely ones we ache to prize and praise,   
climb into and become because they try   

our day-by-day significance: some of us   
ugly and most of us plain, walked past   
in the drowned streets: pearls of paste,   

salted butter, secondary colors. They   
drift unapproached, gazed never-selves,   
blunt paragons of genetic industry. We   

desire them but cannot want such order.   
We stand, mouths open, and cannot help   
stammering our secrets, nailed to water.

Source: Poetry (December 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2008
 Roddy  Lumsden


Roddy Lumsden was born in St. Andrews, Scotland; he describes his upbringing as small-town and working-class. His earliest exposure to literature came from his mother and older brother, who would read aloud to him when he was a child. Later, when he attended school, his writing was influenced by the works of W.S. Graham, Philip Larkin, Thom Gunn, T.S. Eliot, and Sylvia Plath, and by song lyrics.

His work is marked by an . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Nature, The Body, Social Commentaries


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