In the Gallery of the Ordinary

By William Logan b. 1950 William Logan
In their excess, their blowsy dreaming
and King Solomon-like tempers, the clouds
possess the grandeur of eighteenth-century oils,

when a painter earned his profession
as an anatomist. Those artists of verdigris
and gamboge, too gorged on joy, perhaps,

treated that blank pasture of the “heavens”
like something that had lived.
Their crawly undoings remind us

of the mean curiosities of sheep, the sea’s
half-remembered boil, or a few twisted bolls
of cotton—the morning phosphorescent

or sunset a dull, worn-out gilt.
The nights there were scumbled with light.
How could we ever have taken them

for the abstinence of art?

Source: Poetry (December 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2009


Poet and critic William Logan was born in Boston in 1950 and earned degrees from Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 1975, his work—both poetry and criticism—has regularly appeared in major journals and publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, and the New Criterion. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Sad-Faced Men (1982), Sullen Weedy Lakes (1988), . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Ekphrasis

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