Tuesday was my birthday (I have as many years behind me now as Heinz has varieties), and my wife gave me, along with a gorgeous bluish-gray linen shirt, the Collected Poems of Richard Wilbur, one of my favorite living poets. I’ve only begun to explore it; I could quote what is still perhaps the poem of his I love best, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” (“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry”), but I think instead I’ll go with “Matthew VIII, 28 ff.” (q.v.):
Rabbi, we Gadarenes
Are not ascetics; we are fond of wealth and possessions.
Love, as you call it, we obviate by means
Of the planned release of aggressions.
We have deep faith in prosperity.
Soon, it is hoped, we will reach our full potential.
In the light of our gross product, the practice of charity
Is palpably inessential.
It is true that we go insane;
That for no good reason we are possessed by devils;
That we suffer, despite the amenities which obtain
At all but the lowest levels.
We shall not, however, resign
Our trust in the high-heaped table and the full trough.
If you cannot cure us without destroying our swine,
We had rather you shoved off.