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Best Famous Richard Wilbur Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Richard Wilbur poems. This is a select list of the best famous Richard Wilbur poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Richard Wilbur poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Richard Wilbur poems.

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Written by Richard Wilbur |


 A ball will bounce; but less and less.
It's not A light-hearted thing, resents its own resilience.
Falling is what it loves, and the earth falls So in our hearts from brilliance, Settles and is forgot.
It takes a sky-blue juggler with five red balls To shake our gravity up.
Whee, in the air The balls roll around, wheel on his wheeling hands, Learning the ways of lightness, alter to spheres Grazing his finger ends, Cling to their courses there, Swinging a small heaven about his ears.
But a heaven is easier made of nothing at all Than the earth regained, and still and sole within The spin of worlds, with a gesture sure and noble He reels that heaven in, Landing it ball by ball, And trades it all for a broom, a plate, a table.
Oh, on his toe the table is turning, the broom's Balancing up on his nose, and the plate whirls On the tip of the broom! Damn, what a show, we cry: The boys stamp, and the girls Shriek, and the drum booms And all come down, and he bows and says good-bye.

Written by Richard Wilbur |


 It is a cramped little state with no foreign policy,
Save to be thought inoffensive.
The grammar of the language Has never been fathomed, owing to the national habit Of allowing each sentence to trail off in confusion.
Those who have visited Scusi, the capital city, Report that the railway-route from Schuldig passes Through country best described as unrelieved.
Sheep are the national product.
The faint inscription Over the city gates may perhaps be rendered, "I'm afraid you won't find much of interest here.
" Census-reports which give the population As zero are, of course, not to be trusted, Save as reflecting the natives' flustered insistence That they do not count, as well as their modest horror Of letting one's sex be known in so many words.
The uniform grey of the nondescript buildings, the absence Of churches or comfort-stations, have given observers An odd impression of ostentatious meanness, And it must be said of the citizens (muttering by In their ratty sheepskins, shying at cracks in the sidewalk) That they lack the peace of mind of the truly humble.
The tenor of life is careful, even in the stiff Unsmiling carelessness of the border-guards And douaniers, who admit, whenever they can, Not merely the usual carloads of deodorant But gypsies, g-strings, hasheesh, and contraband pigments.
Their complete negligence is reserved, however, For the hoped-for invasion, at which time the happy people (Sniggering, ruddily naked, and shamelessly drunk) Will stun the foe by their overwhelming submission, Corrupt the generals, infiltrate the staff, Usurp the throne, proclaim themselves to be sun-gods, And bring about the collapse of the whole empire.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

A World Without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness

 The tall camels of the spirit
Steer for their deserts, passing the last groves loud
With the sawmill shrill of the locust, to the whole honey of the 
They are slow, proud, And move with a stilted stride To the land of sheer horizon, hunting Traherne's Sensible emptiness, there where the brain's lantern-slide Revels in vast returns.
O connoisseurs of thirst, Beasts of my soul who long to learn to drink Of pure mirage, those prosperous islands are accurst That shimmer on the brink Of absence; auras, lustres, And all shinings need to be shaped and borne.
Think of those painted saints, capped by the early masters With bright, jauntily-worn Aureate plates, or even Merry-go-round rings.
Turn, O turn From the fine sleights of the sand, from the long empty oven Where flames in flamings burn Back to the trees arrayed In bursts of glare, to the halo-dialing run Of the country creeks, and the hills' bracken tiaras made Gold in the sunken sun, Wisely watch for the sight Of the supernova burgeoning over the barn, Lampshine blurred in the steam of beasts, the spirit's right Oasis, light incarnate.

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Written by Richard Wilbur |

Wedding Toast

John tells how, at Cana's wedding feast, The water-pots poured wine in such amount That by his sober count There were a hundred gallons at the least.
It made no earthly sense, unless to show How whatsoever love elects to bless Brims to a sweet excess That can without depletion overflow.
Which is to say that what love sees is true; That this world's fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound And pour its plenty out for such as you.
Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine, I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water, And may that water smack of Cana's wine.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

In a Churchyard

 That flower unseen, that gem of purest ray, 
Bright thoughts uncut by men: 
Strange that you need but speak them, Thomas Gray, 
And the mind skips and dives beyond its ken, 

Finding at once the wild supposed bloom, 
Or in the imagined cave 
Some pulse of crystal staving off the gloom
As covertly as phosphorus in a grave.
Void notions proper to a buried head! Beneath these tombstones here Unseenness fills the sockets of the dead, Whatever to their souls may now appear; And who but those unfathomably deaf Who quiet all this ground Could catch, within the ear's diminished clef, A music innocent of time and sound? What do the living hear, then, when the bell Hangs plumb within the tower Of the still church, and still their thoughts compel Pure tollings that intend no mortal hour? As when a ferry for the shore of death Glides looming toward the dock, Her engines cut, her spirits bating breath As the ranked pilings narrow toward the shock, So memory and expectation set Some pulseless clangor free Of circumstance, and charm us to forget This twilight crumbling in the churchyard tree, Those swifts or swallows which do not pertain, Scuffed voices in the drive, That light flicked on behind the vestry pane, Till, unperplexed from all that is alive, It shadows all our thought, balked imminence Of uncommitted sound, And still would tower at the sill of sense Were not, as now, its honeyed abeyance crowned With a mauled boom of summons far more strange Than any stroke unheard, Which breaks again with unimagined range Through all reverberations of the word, Pooling the mystery of things that are, The buzz of prayer said, The scent of grass, the earliest-blooming star, These unseen gravestones, and the darker dead.

Written by Richard Wilbur |


 For Alexander there was no Far East,
Because he thought the Asian continent
India ended.
Free Cathay at least Did not contribute to his discontent.
But Newton, who had grasped all space, was more Serene.
To him it seemed that he'd but played With several shells and pebbles on the shore Of that profundity he had not made.
Swiss Einstein with his relativity - Most secure of all.
God does not play dice With the cosmos and its activity.
Religionless equations won't suffice.

Written by Richard Wilbur |


 I read how Quixote in his random ride
Came to a crossing once, and lest he lose
The purity of chance, would not decide

Whither to fare, but wished his horse to choose.
For glory lay wherever turned the fable.
His head was light with pride, his horse's shoes Were heavy, and he headed for the stable.

Written by Richard Wilbur |


 Sidling upon the river, the white boat
Has volleyed with its cannon all the morning,
Shaken the shore towns like a Judgment warning,
Telling the palsied water its demand
That the crime come to the top again, and float,
That the sunk murder rise to the light and land.
Blam! In the noon's perfected brilliance burn Brief blooms of flame, which soil away in smoke; And down below, where slowed concussion broke The umber stroll of waters, water-dust Dreamily powders up, and serves to turn The river surface to a cloudy rust.
Down from his bridge the river captain cries To fire again.
They make the cannon sound; But none of them would wish the murder found, Nor wish in other manner to atone Than booming at their midnight crime, which lies Rotting the river, weighted with a stone.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

A Plain Song For Comadre

 Though the unseen may vanish, though insight
And doubter and downcast saint
Join in the same complaint,
What holy things were ever frightened off
By a fly's buzz, or itches, or a cough?
Harder than nails

They are, more warmly constant than the sun,
At whose continual sign
The dimly prompted vine
Upbraids itself to a green excellence.
What evening, when the slow and forced expense Of sweat is done, Does not the dark come flooding the straight furrow Or filling the well-made bowl? What night will not the whole Sky with its clear studs and steady spheres Turn on a sound chimney? It is seventeen years Come tomorrow That Bruna Sandoval has kept the church Of San Ysidro, sweeping And scrubbing the aisles, keeping The candlesticks and the plaster faces bright, And seen no visions but the thing done right >From the clay porch To the white altar.
For love and in all weathers This is what she has done.
Sometimes the early sun Shines as she flings the scrubwater out, with a crash Of grimy rainbows, and the stained studs flash Like angel-feathers.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday

 Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark, Who round with grace this dusky arc Of the grand tour which souls must take.
You who have sounded William Blake, And the still pool, to Plato's mark, Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.
Yet, for your friends' benighted sake, Detain your upward-flying spark; Get us that wish, though like the lark You whet your wings till dawn shall break: Blow out the candles of your cake.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

The Writer

 In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.
I pause in the stairwell, hearing >From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.
Young as she is, the stuff Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy: I wish her a lucky passage.
But now it is she who pauses, As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which The whole house seems to be thinking, And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor Of strokes, and again is silent.
I remember the dazed starling Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago; How we stole in, lifted a sash And retreated, not to affright it; And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door, We watched the sleek, wild, dark And iridescent creature Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove To the hard floor, or the desk-top, And wait then, humped and bloody, For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits Rose when, suddenly sure, It lifted off from a chair-back, Beating a smooth course for the right window And clearing the sill of the world.
It is always a matter, my darling, Of life or death, as I had forgotten.
I wish What I wished you before, but harder.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

Praise In Summer

 Obscurely yet most surely called to praise,
As sometimes summer calls us all, I said
The hills are heavens full of branching ways
Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead;
I said the trees are mines in air, I said
See how the sparrow burrows in the sky!
And then I wondered why this mad instead
Perverts our praise to uncreation, why
Such savour's in this wrenching things awry.
Does sense so stale that it must needs derange The world to know it? To a praiseful eye Should it not be enough of fresh and strange That trees grow green, and moles can course in clay, And sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day?

Written by Richard Wilbur |

Boy at the Window

 Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes Returns him such a God-forsaken stare As outcast Adam gave to paradise.
The man of snow is, nonetheless, content, Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element, He melts enough to drop from one soft eye A trickle of the purest rain, a tear For the child at the bright pane surrounded by Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.

Written by Richard Wilbur |

A Hole In The Floor

 for Rene Magritte

The carpenter's made a hole
In the parlor floor, and I'm standing
Staring down into it now
At four o'clock in the evening,
As Schliemann stood when his shovel
Knocked on the crowns of Troy.
A clean-cut sawdust sparkles On the grey, shaggy laths, And here is a cluster of shavings >From the time when the floor was laid.
They are silvery-gold, the color Of Hesperian apple-parings.
Kneeling, I look in under Where the joists go into hiding.
A pure street, faintly littered With bits and strokes of light, Enters the long darkness Where its parallels will meet.
The radiator-pipe Rises in middle distance Like a shuttered kiosk, standing Where the only news is night.
Here's it's not painted green, As it is in the visible world.
For God's sake, what am I after? Some treasure, or tiny garden? Or that untrodden place, The house's very soul, Where time has stored our footbeats And the long skein of our voices? Not these, but the buried strangeness Which nourishes the known: That spring from which the floor-lamp Drinks now a wilder bloom, Inflaming the damask love-seat And the whole dangerous room.

Written by Richard Wilbur |


 A woman I have never seen before
Steps from the darkness of her town-house door
At just that crux of time when she is made
So beautiful that she or time must fade.
What use to claim that as she tugs her gloves A phantom heraldry of all the loves Blares from the lintel? That the staggered sun Forgets, in his confusion, how to run? Still, nothing changes as her perfect feet Click down the walk that issues in the street, Leaving the stations of her body there Like whips that map the countries of the air.