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The eyes open to a cry of pulleys, And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple As false dawn. Outside the open window The morning air is all awash with angels. Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses, Some are in smocks: but truly there they are. Now they are rising together in calm swells Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing; Now they are flying in place, conveying The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving And staying like white water; and now of a sudden They swoon down into so rapt a quiet That nobody seems to be there. The soul shrinks From all that it is about to remember, From the punctual rape of every blessd day, And cries, "Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry, Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam And clear dances done in the sight of heaven." Yet, as the sun acknowledges With a warm look the world's hunks and colors, The soul descends once more in bitter love To accept the waking body, saying now In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises, "Bring them down from their ruddy gallows; Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves; Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone, And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating Of dark habits, keeping their difficult balance."
From Things of This World by Richard Wilbur (Harcourt, Brace, 1956). Included in Vox Populi for educational purposes only.