This not quite knowing what the earth requires:
earthiness, earthliness, or things ethereal;
whether spiritus mundi notices bad faith
or if it cares; defraudings at the source;
the bare usury of the species. In the end
one is as broken as the vows and tatters,
petitions with blood on them, the charred prayers
spiralling godwards on intense thermals.

No decent modicum, agreed. I’d claim
the actual is at once cruder and finer,
without fuss carrying its own weight. Still
I think of poetry as it was said
of Alanbrooke’s war diary: a work done
to gain, or regain, possession of himself,
as a means of survival and, in that sense,
a mode of moral life.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 4, on page 32
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