Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Glory be to God for dappled things," writes Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem "Pied Beauty," and "Love has pitched his mansion in/The place of excrement," says William Butler Yeats's character in "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop." Cate Marvin begins her exhilarating, fierce new book with a poem in that tradition of embracing the foul with the fair. Like her predecessors, Marvin exults in a powerful music of tumbling consonants and linked sounds:


Quest the contagion, funnel much muck

through your hands upraised and cupped,

pour river-brack down your throat, pick

your scabs with loving glee. Love your

master of pestilence, conqueror of white

clothes: mud prints, paw prints, germs

not even the physician knows. Eat through

a muskrat's lair, divine the grub's slumber

beneath rotting leaves, take the lot, crush

it in your bare hands. Look at the moon

for its holes, narrow your eye at its skin

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company