To still be standing: to have lived through it all,
even happiness—calmly, fully—with true joy.
Wordlessly trials came, then in word and voice.
Who wouldn’t look back wide-eyed at the spectacle?
As long as life lasts no one reaches such mastery,
because no one can—only the infinite strives
infinitely. And what happens to our lives
is not as new as the gold-green of the birch trees.
A wood dove coos. And burdens that come back
feel like burdens that are only about to begin.
The bird calls and calls. You exist, diminuendo,
in the midst of that song, and entirely awake.
For David Ferry
Daniel Tobin is the author of nine books of poems, most recently From Nothing, winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award, The Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the German of Paul Celan, and Blood Labors.He is author of the critical studies Awake in America, Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, and On Serious Earth. Tobin is also editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola Ridge, Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Arts (with Pimone Triplett) and To the Many: Collected Early Poems of Lola Ridge. His poetry has won the "The Discovery/The Nation Award," The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors.
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