Winter 1964 • Vol. XXVI No. 1 Five Poems for John Crowe Ransom |

Those Before Us

They are all outline, uniformly gray, unregenerate arrowheads sloughed up the path here, or in the corners of the eye, they play their thankless, routed roles. They never were. Wormwood on the veranda! Plodding needles still prod the coarse pink yarn into a dress. The muskrat that took a slice of your thumb still huddles, a mop of hair and a heartbeat on the porch— there's the tall wastebasket where it learned to wait for us playing dead, the slats it mashed in terror, its spoor of cornflakes, and the packing crate it furiously slashed to matchwood to escape. Their chairs were pulpits, yet if you draw back the blinds (as full of windows as a fishnet now), you will hear them conspiring, slapping hands across the bent card-table, still leaf-green. Vacations, stagnant growth. But in the silence, someone lets out his belt to breathe, someone roams in negligée. Bless the confidence of their sitting unguarded there in stocking feet. Sands drop from the hour-glas

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Considered by many to be the most important poet in English of the second half of the twentieth century, Robert Lowell studied at Kenyon College under John Crowe Ransom and received an undergraduate degree in 1940. He published over fifteen books of poetry in his lifetime and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 at the age of thirty.

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They are all outline, uniformly gray, unregenerate arrowheads sloughed up the path here, or in the corners of the eye, they play their thankless, routed roles. They never were. Wormwood […]

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They are all outline, uniformly gray, unregenerate arrowheads sloughed up the path here, or in the corners of the eye, they play their thankless, routed roles. They never were. Wormwood […]

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