Essential Poem

By A. F. Moritz b. 1947

For John Hollander

Although it’s likely you’re on your own
at this moment in this city of three million
reading the poems of Traherne,
and there was no one till you lit your lamp,
the kingdom of childhood keeps being founded
in his voice and his seeing,
which are a sort of birth. A birth goes on
in the dark of a poor family, or a mother alone.
Then comes the small bright circle of the faces:
lover pores over sleeping loved one, parent over child
in their enclosure we name home,
a hut in the plain so bare there’s not a tongue
of grass to make the wind hiss. Unknown
to the world a world exists:
trees and streams, birds all the colors of the flowers.
So Traherne pours over you
his wild remembrance of the world to come. And would
even in the silence of his book
if it were lost and lay unopened
two hundred years. Even if he had died
before he sang the Eden in his look.

Source: Poetry (November 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2011
 A. F. Moritz


A.F. Moritz (Albert F. Moritz) is the author of more than 15 books of poetry; he has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Relit Award (for Night Street Repairs, named the best book of poetry published in Canada in 2005), an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. A Canadian citizen, Moritz was born in Ohio and moved to Canada in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Parenthood, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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