Richard Wilbur: Elsewhere
The delectable names of harsh places:
Cilicia Aspera, Estremadura.
In that smooth wave of cello-sound, Mojave,
We hear no ill of brittle parch and glare.
So late October’s pasture-fringe,
With aster-blur and ferns of toasted gold,
Invites to barrens where the crop to come
Is stone prized upward by the deepening freeze.
Speechless and cold the stars arise
On the small garden where we have dominion.
Yet in three tongues we speak of Taurus’ name
And of Aldebaran and the Hyades,
Recalling what at best we know,
That there is beauty bleak and far from ours,
Great reaches where the Lord’s delighting mind,
Though not inhuman, ponders other things.
Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems 1943-2004 is one of the very best books of poetry published in the last decade. Wilbur is a dazzling, controlled, dignified poet. The poem above was first published in Mayflies (2000). You can also hear the poet read it, if you click here.