Human Wishes

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/20/2010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Poems deal with language, desire, suffering, art, human relationships, and mortality


Spring Drawing

A man thinks lilacs against white houses, having seen them in the farm

country south of Tacoma in April, and can't find his way to a sentence, a

brushstroke carrying the energy of brush and stroke

-as if he were stranded on the aureole of the memory of a woman's


and she, after the drive from the airport and a chat with her mother and a

shower, which is ritual cleansing and a passage through water to

mark transition,

had walked up the mountain on a summer evening.

Away from, not toward. As if the garden roses were a little hobby of the

dead. As if the deer pellets in the pale grass and the wavering moon and

the rondure-as they used to say, upping the ante-of heaven

were admirable completely, but only as common nouns of a plainer

intention, moon, shit, sky,

as if spirit attended to plainness only, the more complicated forms

exhausting it, tossed-off grapestems becoming crystal chandeliers,

as if radiance were the meaning of meaning, and justice responsible to

daydream not only for the strict beauty of denial,

but as a felt need to reinvent the inner form of wishing.

Only the force of the brushstroke keeps the lilacs from pathos-the hes

and shes of the comedy may or may not get together, but if they are to get

at all,

then the interval created by if, to which mind and breath attend, nervous

as the grazing animals the first brushes painted,

has become habitable space, lived in beyond wishing.


Excerpted from Human Wishes by Robert Hass Copyright 2003 by Robert Hass
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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