For the Faculty
I can’t rest and listen to the hatred
in these young voices, I walk off alone
my spirit sinking. But this is the spawn
of ugly elders decade after decade
gross in my country—sometimes I protested
and sometimes only winced in Washington—
and now the offspring bawl like the ill-born
that they are, and their faces are distorted.
It’s quieter as I withdraw away
from the campus by the square of the distance
—at least that law is lovely—and I stray
into an historical revery:
for years I cannot recollect an instance
when our chief men showed magnanimity.
2. Long Lines
Beneath the faintly sweet forsythia’s yellow blossoms
into the blue of heaven field I lie here
meditating, no longer much disturbed by it,
the young’s fanatical hostility last night
was mainly, I conclude, because I say my say
not identically theirs in simple sentences.
That watering can is spraying a hundred parabolas
into the sunshine. During my long lifetime
by and large what I have blabbed arousing resistance
recklessly has proved to be what I intend,
but these grown up in a world too meaningless to learn anything
now are quick to resent that they know very little.
Cloud has overcast the depths behind the yellow
flowers, and it is chilly staring into white.
I know myself, if I made out
sexually with one or two
I’d regard their idiocy
with more complaisance and compassion
attentive, hanging around,
to what they mean but cannot say;
but they come on so ugly
that I don’t even try.
But I didn’t grow up among the atom bombs
like these, and my career such as it is
was never built on sand. A stupid maze
is the pattern of my life as of my dreams
but I do not hanker till the explosion comes,
and still the holy spirit—why, who knows?—
sometimes awakens me.
So I morose
go back where they are beating their tom-toms
and shouting “Shut it down.” They do not sound
like Isaac Newton, more a mob of monkeys,
but they are Adam the next time around
and all I hope. I see it doesn’t please
them either that I stand here as I am.
Let them put up with me as I with them.
May 22, 1969