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Bedivere/Horatio

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Each living thing is like a kingdom
that rises not quite out of nothing: April stirrings
of some boy and the May beauty
of a generous princess. Then came children—
who could calculate their splendor?
And there were factories in valleys, mile after mile,
dragons of purple smoke, blue flames at night,
castles hidden in forests equally hidden
where a shining company rode through flowers
to pacify the dangerous land. Triangular sails,
violet, saffron, and rose, glowed beyond coves
under cliffs dangling silver torques of waterfall.
Later the parents aged and grew more grateful,
more full of a certainty that could not be glimpsed
or dismayed, and then the children
were gone to some other land
as if to heaven, yet the mourning
was not for death. Now by a quiet wall
buckled cement gives a bright home
to milkweeds like strange skeletons,
pale green, intact and upright, and tall white grasses
that never wave. The sole survivor—
a duty was laid on him
to tell the tale among new minds, other ways,
and how do we imagine him,
wherever he’s gone—all that remains,
scholar of an unread book,
beggar of an unfilled cup,
an unknown variation,
the thought of the kingdom in a lost man?

Source: Poetry (November 2011)

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

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Bedivere/Horatio

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