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The Moralists

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You would extend the mind beyond the act,
Furious, bending, suffering in thin
And unpoetic dicta; you have been
Forced by hypothesis to fiercer fact.
As metal singing hard, with firmness racked,
You formulate our passion; and behind
In some harsh moment nowise of the mind
Lie the old meanings your advance has packed.

No man can hold existence in the head.
I, too, have known the anguish of the right
Amid this net of mathematic dearth,
And the brain throbbing like a ship at night:
Have faced with old unmitigated dread
The hard familiar wrinkles of the earth.

Yvor Winters, “The Moralists” from The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters, edited by R. L. Barth. Used by permission of Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio.
Source: The Collected Poems of Yvor Winters (1960)
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The Moralists

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