FOR ROBERT LOWELL / Michael Milburn You said history has to live with what was here, but God, I remember you bent down with so much history, the year you came back here to die, and I walked to the ancient cemetery to lie in the sun by Henry James, then rise, a halfbound statue trying to shake off all that stone, and approach and halted on my lines as I watched your eyes and huge head. Boring and sick in class, smoking hungrily, you were unable to learn a name yet dropped names like facts and slouched further in the monogrammed college chair, plagued by eager students. the granite hall with its frieze of famous names, where I turned to you I knew I ought to get a grip on you, call like the boy to Arthur at Camelot, but you were too much Arthur then, Caesar, Napoleon, Lear, no sad boy with parents. One night, as I strolled alone by the river, you passed, returning to your room, trembling and stooped, and I quieted as you unlocked the courtyard gate. Which poem were you returning from? Or did you walk to the bridge, quick with students,
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1983
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