"A World without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness"


            The tall camels of the spirit
      Steer for their deserts, passing the last groves loud
With the sawmill shrill of the locust, to the whole honey of the arid
            Sun. They are slow, proud,

            And move with a stilted stride
      To the land of sheer horizon, hunting Traherne's
Sensible emptiness, there where the brain's lantern-slide
            Revels in vast returns.

            O connoisseurs of thirst,
      Beasts of my soul who long to learn to drink
Of pure mirage, those prosperous islands are accurst
            That shimmer on the brink

            Of absence; auras, lustres,
      And all shinings need to be shaped and borne.
Think of those painted saints, capped by the early masters
            With bright, jauntily-worn

            Aureate plates, or even
      Merry-go-round rings. Turn, O turn
From the fine sleights of the sand, from the long empty oven
            Where flames in flamings burn

            Back to the trees arrayed
      In bursts of glare, to the halo-dialling run
Of the country creeks, and the hills' bracken tiaras made
            Gold in the sunken sun,

            Wisely watch for the sight
      Of the supernova burgeoning over the barn,
Lampshine blurred in the steam of beasts, the spirit's right
            Oasis, light incarnate.


Richard Wilbur, Collected Poems 1943-2004, Harvest Books, 2006.