Been on a tear with the poetry of Jack Gilbert. He’s got a real handle on the close proximity between the sacred and the profane, the spirit and the flesh. Check out the interview with him in the latest Paris Review, issue #175.

THE CONTAINER FOR THE THING CONTAINED

What is the man searching for inside her blouse?
He has been with her body for seven years
and still is suprised by the arches of her
slender feet. He still traces her spine
with careful attention, feeling for the bones
of her pelvic girdle when he arrives there.
Her flesh is bright in sunlight and then not
as he leans forward and back. Picasso in his later
prints shows himself as a grotesque painter
watching closely a young Spanish woman on the bed
with her legs open and the old duenna in black
to the side. He had known nakedness every day
for sixty years. What could there be in it still
to find? But he was happy even then to get
close to the distant, distant intermittency.
Like a piano playing faintly on a second floor
in a back room. The music seems familiar, but is not.

THE LORD SITS WITH ME OUT IN FRONT

The Lord sits with me out in front watching
a sweet darkness begin in the fields.
We try to decide whether I am lonely.
I tell about waking at four a.m. and thinking
of what the man did to the daughter of Louise.
And there being no moon when I went outside.
He says maybe I am getting old.
That being poor is taking too much out of me.
I say I am fine. He asks for the Brahms.
We sit and watch the sea fade. The tape finishes again
and we sit on. Unable to find words.

POETRY IS A KIND OF LYING

Poetry is a kind of lying.
necessarily. To profit the poet
or beauty. But also in
that truth may be told only so.

Those who, admirably, refuse
to falsify (as those who will not
risk pretentions) are excluded
from saying even so much.

Degas said he didn’t paint
what he saw, but what
would enable them to see
the thing he had.