“Dear Mary, with her usual motherly
solicitude for the lost overdog….”
You’ve always wished to stand by a white horse,
a Jeanne d’Arc by Albrecht Dürer, armed and lettered
in the tougher university of the world….
Since your travels, the horse is firmly there;
you stare off airily into the mundane gossip,
our still more mundane ethics, listen puzzled,
take note; once or twice, blurt your ice-clear sentence—
one hand, for solace, braided in the horse’s mane….
The immortals are all about us and below us;
for us immortal means another book;
there are too many…with us, the music stops;
the first violin stops to wipe the sweat from his bow.

From Notebook, 1967–1968 by Robert Lowell

Copyright © 1969 by Robert Lowell Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.

This Issue

November 23, 1989