Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the Lake

"In the Slop of His Cradle"

Elise Archer made this beautiful painting, which I reproduced from the cover of The Collected Poems, by Stanley Kunitz, her husband.  The painting's title is also the 17th line of a poem by Stanley Kunitz.  Here is the poem:


When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
that caring.
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
endlessly drifting.
Peace!  Peace!
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn't matter
which way was home;
as if he didn't know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.

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