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December 2001

Courtyard looking toward Artemis from the west cloister

by William Virgil Davis

—Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Unarmed Artemis, your mouth
opened in awe or slight surprise,
you stand surveying the scene in

this most modern garden. Centuries
spin before your sightless eyes while lilies
ring their silent bells. Frail ferns

and cineraria whisper softly
in the stone-stilled atmosphere.
We wander among the squared-off

rooms surrounding you, turning
over in our minds thoughts we thought
we had forgotten. Each turn brings

back to breath the beautiful,
the true. Then we return to you.
Demetrius of Ephesus, your fears

have proven false. We stand and stare,
and wonder if, in our modern world,
when we return to it, our being here

and seeing you will make much
difference. We walk out into the world
to do what we must do.

—William Virgil Davis

&n ...

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William Virgil Davis's book Landscape and Journey, winner of the 2009 New Criterion Poetry Prize, was published in the fall by Ivan R. Dee.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 20 December 2001, on page 51

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