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IT WAS OVER

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Something expired. At the turning,
A spirit was gone. That which was
Turned to sepia: high collars, punting,
Waxed mustaches, parasols.

From bridges, children stared in the river
And felt themselves, also, halved.
Old manners were patently over.
New manners had not yet arrived.

The old, without waiting to speak
Their parting lines in the act,
Learned to exit the way of pipe-smoke.
Uttered nothing. Utter tact.

Steamy ghosts rose from horses'
Maws as they champed at their bits.
The ladies reached for their purses.
The gentlemen tipped their hats.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

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IT WAS OVER

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  • John Talbot earned his PhD in classics from Boston University. He has published one volume of poetry, The Well-Tempered Tantrum (2004). His literary criticism, translations, and poetry have appeared in a variety of publications. He is currently writing chapters for the Oxford History of Literary Translation in English. He serves on the national council of the Association of Literary Critics, Scholars, and Writers.Talbot is an associate professor at Brigham Young University, where he specializes in the relationship of ancient Greek and Latin to English literature.

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