Conscience If You Decree This Death
On a Warm Day of Spring

Infant, now adult, always female, Prodigy,
Who had read all the Harvard Classics through
At the phenomenal age of 10.2,
Thus giving John Stuart Mill a run for his money,
Who read the Greek classics at eight, having learned the language at three.

Prodigy who has disappeared to an unknown and probably
Prodigious island off the coast of Canada,
Where you are now basking—I hope—though, alas, clearly not
With the sun-worshiper who issued the original invitation;
But Prodigy, why did you have to flee so far?
I could show you an island or two along the coast of Maine:
One with great big pink-white granite boulders
Bucking the pounding waves from a turbulent sea,
Splitting them into a hundred thousand fragments
Lit by the rays of the kaleidoscopic sun;
And then the quiet little sandy beaches, wind-protected
For swimming quite uncovered and unseen;
And faint, moss-cushioned paths through the silent interior;
And a sun setting behind blue hills across the restless bay;
Most exquisite perhaps of all, a finely silhouetted seagull
Gliding along air currents of the early evening

JPEG image of Gustav Vigeland sculpture.
Eternal Springtime, a sculpture by Auguste Rodin.
Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Balancing itself with still and outstretched wings—
Here are rhythms near perfection, uncreated by Man.

Or, coming nearer, do you know the much-neglected Palisades
Just across the good old Hudson—so accessible
To tired New Yorkers who have the sense to take their weekends off,
And thus escape Manhattanitis and other dread maladies?
There's room for many a couple along the Palisades
And I know a place or three totally undiscovered by the crowd:
One grassy glade at the very edge of a sheer and soaring cliff,
Where you look out over the river to faraway hills,
To cities and bridges and boats, and barges towed by tugs;
You see the steam spurt suddenly from a funnel
And hear the whistle an instant later, thus proving
Something that you learned in school was right.
And if you want, you can read or talk—talking perhaps
"Until thought's melody becomes too sweet for utterance."
It's pretty darned nice—on a warm day of spring.


Copyright © 1972, 1983, 1994 by Corliss Lamont.
Copyright © 2001-2023 by Half-Moon Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Conscience If You Decree This Death

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