God lurks in the detail.

Violin and cello subside. The masked musicians,
Still in the throes,
Assume a dark repose—
As if they listened to an echo
Waking, among their loftiest intuitions,
Rooftree, rafter, and stucco.

The quiet is the quiet one imagines
Color achieves
Rioting among leaves.
It lingers just a shade too long,
Till bravos come and small talk wells from regions
Where things are comfortably wrong.

Where are we going after this is over?
It’s a hard life
With or without a wife.
That goes, my darling, without saying.
What shall I say? A friend, perhaps? A lover?
Well, how much are you paying?

Enough, enough. The wakeful nightingales
Of Heraclitus
Note by note invite us
Out of our brief and shadowy selves.
That is the work of art, and it prevails,
If only on dusty shelves.

A Message from the Editors

Since 1982, The New Criterion has nurtured and safeguarded our delicate cultural inheritance. Join our family of supporters and secure the future of civilization.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 8, on page 44
Copyright © 2022 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/1988/4/on-a-theme-of-x