William De Witt Snodgrass

(January 5, 1926 – January 13, 2009 / Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania)

Monet: “Les Nymphéas”


The eyelids glowing, some chill morning.
O world half-known through opening, twilit lids
Before the vague face clenches into light;
O universal waters like a cloud,
Like those first clouds of half-created matter;
O all things rising, rising like the fumes
From waters falling, O forever falling;
Infinite, the skeletal shells that fall, relinquished,
The snowsoft sift of the diatoms, like selves
Downdrifting age upon age through milky oceans;
O slow downdrifting of the atoms;
O island nebulae and O the nebulous islands
Wandering these mists like falsefires, which are true,
Bobbing like milkweed, like warm lanterns bobbing
Through the snowfilled windless air, blinking and passing
As we pass into the memory of women
Who are passing. Within those depths
What ravening? What devouring rage?
How shall our living know its ends of yielding?
These things have taken me as the mouth an orange—
That acrid sweet juice entering every cell;
And I am shared out. I become these things:
These lilies, if these things are water lilies
Which are dancers growing dim across no floor;
These mayflies; whirled dust orbiting in the sun;
This blossoming diffused as rushlights; galactic vapors;
Fluorescence into which we pass and penetrate;
O soft as the thighs of women;
O radiance, into which I go on dying ...

Submitted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Edited: Tuesday, January 03, 2012

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