The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

Nature's Way

"FAULTILY faultless" may be ill—

"Carefully careless" is worse still.

I bought one day a book of rhyme—

One long, fierce flout at tune and time;

Ragged and jagged by intent.

As if each line were earthquake-rent,

Leagues on seismal leagues of it,

Not unheroically writ,

By one of whom I had been told

That he, in scorn of canons old,

Pedantic laws effete and dead,

Went fearless to the pure well-head

Of song's most ancient legislature—

Art's uncorrupted mother. Nature.

Nature! whose lapidary seas

Labour a pebble without ease.

Till they unto perfection bring

That miracle of polishing;

Who never negligently yet

Fashioned an April violet,

Nor would forgive, did June disclose

Unceremoniously the rose;

Who makes the toadstool in the grass

The carven ivory surpass,

So guiltless of a fault or slip

Is its victorious workmanship,

Who suffers us pure Form to see

In a dead leaf's anatomy;

And pondering long where greenly sleep

The unravished secrets of the deep.

Bids the all-courted pearl express

Her final thoughts on flawlessness;

But visibly aches when doomed to bring

Some inchoate amorphous thing,

Loathed by its very mother for

The unfinish she doth most abhor,

Into a world her curious wit

Would fain have shaped all-exquisite

As the acorn cup's simplicity.

Or the Moon's patience with the sea,

Or the superb, the golden grief

Of each October for each leaf,

Phrased in a rhetoric that excels

Isaiah's and Ezekiel's.