A Measuring Worm

Hamlen Brook

Farewell, Richard Wilbur


  

A Measuring Worm

by Richard Wilbur

This yellow striped green
Caterpillar, climbing up
The steep window screen,
Constantly (for lack
Of a full set of legs) keeps
Humping up his back.
It’s as if he sent
By a sort of semaphore
Dark omegas meant
To warn of Last Things.
Although he doesn’t know it,
He will soon have wings,
And I, too, don’t know
Toward what undreamt condition
Inch by inch I go.


 

 Hamlen Brook

by Richard Wilbur

At the alder-darkened brink 
Where the stream slows to a lucid jet 
I lean to the water, dinting its top with sweat, 
And see, before I can drink, 

A startled inchling trout 
Of spotted near-transparency, 
Trawling a shadow solider than he. 
He swerves now, darting out 

To where, in a flicked slew 
Of sparks and glittering silt, he weaves 
Through stream-bed rocks, disturbing foundered leaves, 
And butts then out of view 

Beneath a sliding glass 
Crazed by the skimming of a brace 
Of burnished dragon-flies across its face, 
In which deep cloudlets pass 

And a white precipice 
Of mirrored birch-trees plunges down 
Toward where the azures of the zenith drown. 
How shall I drink all this? 

Joy’s trick is to supply 
Dry lips with what can cool and slake, 
Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache 
Nothing can satisfy.


 

Farewell, Richard Wilbur

October 15, 2017

by Seth E. Frank ’55

Amherst, America and the world
Are sad today,
Because Richard Wilbur this day
Was called away. 

The laundry fluttering in the morning breeze,
The nightingales singing in New England trees,
The young girl composing on typewriter keys -- 

And more --
Have lost their modern spokesman,
A gentle, polite and somewhat formal man,
A poet whose poetry --
Perhaps as none before,
At least not with such ceremony --
Unlike the world,
Always said, "Please"
While saying much more. 

Amherst, America and the world
Have good reason --
All -- to be sad today,
For this is the day when Richard Wilbur
Was called away.

 

Copyright by Seth E. Frank
All rights reserved