Philosopher’s Progress, The

Martin, Charles

How wonderful! If only we could stop

Here on these verdant isles-Isles of the Blest!

And, like the Sun’s immortal horses, crop

The tender stalks, undriven, unpossessed;

-But this is not for us, not ours to rest

A moment even, for it seems that we’ve

No sooner touched upon, barely caressed

One yielding surface when we’re made to leave

For yet another. Some of us believe

That our universe had a Designer

Who moves us toward some end we can’t conceive,

At ever-greater speeds-here let me linger

For just a moment underneath that arch,

Upon this bridge, before the next forced march

-But no, not mine to pause, pausing’s forbidden,

And whether we move on of our own accord

Or at the hest of purposes kept hidden

From us, we do move: motion its own reward,

Though there are others; we are rarely bored,

And not for long, with always something new

Presenting itself as not to be ignored,

One further prospect, vista, scenic view

For us to dwell upon while passing through;

Beyond the declivities, a gentle rising

For we ascend as we go forward to,

Until the path breaks up into surprising

Discontinuities, a sudden crest

That we’re swept over, and we come to rest

Nowhere, precisely. Neither here nor there,

With one hat on and one hat off, askew

As to one’s four-in-hand and boutonniere,

And mumbling to ourselves, how live, what do,

Slowly begin to stir ourselves anew,

Righting as best we can the biffed and battered;

Will we succeed this time, will we come through,

We ask as though the questions really mattered:

Some deity or other will be flattered

By our prayers, but for ourselves, we right

The wronged, heal the sick, collect the scattered,

Brace up the many, and at first signs of light,

Return to where we start back toward the top:

How wonderful! If only we could stop.

CHARLES MARTIN’s Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems will appear in July from Sewanee Writers’ Series/The Overlook Press ….

Copyright Hudson Review Spring 2002

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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