I'm new, said the amber moon at the bottom of the mist funnel, brightening and paling. I don't think you'll find my card there. Open your mouth-- Breathe-- A crater big enough to hold the land from New York to Philadelphia. New! I'm new, said the quartz crystal on the parlor table-- like glass-- Mr. Tiffanybought a car load of them. Like water or white rock candy. --I'm new, said the mist, rising from the duck pond, rising, curling, turning under the moon. (William Carlos Williams, The Great American Novel)

  Has he not a perfect right
To remind us at every moment how we quite
  Rightly expect each other
To go upstairs or for a walk if we must cry over
  Spilt milk? (W. H. Auden, "Mundus Et Infans")

Baby was going to sing and then sing twice….Experience. Experience.
She sang. (Carla Harryman, Baby)

2 and 2 are 4,
And that's a couple more. (Christina Rossetti, Sing-Song)

The miracle that saves the world, the realm of human affairs, from its normal, 'natural' ruin is ultimately the fact of natality, in which the faculty of action is ontologically rooted. It is, in other words, the birth of new men and the new beginning, the action they are capable of by virtue of being born. (Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition)

Originally Published: April 22nd, 2010

Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Burt has published three collections of poems: Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006),...