On the Late Latin Light
The semi-precious sunset, windswept, vain, took the cold buttery light and made it work. Myopia blurred the rain, laying the dust. It was elegiac lite, in other words. The window framed a gallery of garden, wisteria draped along the mossy fence, the lilac punk-show of a woodblock print, as if a chisel could engrave a thought. There was an hour when style was not the cause. Jerome in his ink-blotched study, lion and skull props in some fantasy of scholarship, scratched down the words of God in his own tongue. Latin was not the tongue, I forgot to add. He was the odd man out, or in, perhaps. [End Page 100]
Long Island. Summer. 1968
after Thomas Jones, “Rooftops in Naples”
Beneath that chalk-blue sky with iron stirred through it, the whitewashed windows burned in faint phosphorescence. That long forgotten summer, amid the ghostly Long Island yachts, we entered the waters on that narrow neck beneath a cracked porcelain moon. Our blank lives had almost begun. War rose behind the shuttered summer, that summer. We whispered beneath the low masses of anchored boats, stirring through that coldness, the phosphor radiant along bodies naked in their nakedness. There in the iced waters, our glowing outlines almost made us whole. [End Page 101]
William Logan’s new book of poems, Madame X (Penguin), was published in the fall. His edition of John Townsend Trowbridge’s forgotten comic epic, Guy Vernon (University of Minnesota Press), was released last spring. A new book of criticism, Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure (Columbia University Press), will appear late this year. He recently received the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern Poetry from the Sewanee Review and the Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction from the Virginia Quarterly Review.