Poem-a-Day Collection (31)

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Poem-a-Day Collection
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Poem-a-Day Collection by Knopf. Compilation copyright 2009 by Knopf.
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Creeper

Poems by John Updike

With what stoic delicacy does
Virginia creeper let go:
the feeblest tug brings down
a sheaf of leaves kite-high,
as if to say, To live is good
but not to live—to be pulled down
with scarce a ripping sound,
still flourishing, still
stretching toward the sun—
is good also, all photosynthesis
abandoned
, quite quits. Next spring
the hairy rootlets left unpulled
snake out a leafy afterlife
up that same smooth-barked oak.

Fine Point (12/22/08)

Why go to Sunday school, though surlily,
and not believe a bit of what was taught?
The desert shepherds in their scratchy robes
undoubtedly existed, and Israel's defeats—
the Temple in its sacredness destroyed
by Babylon and Rome. Yet Jews kept faith
and passed the prayers, the crabbed rites,
from table to table as Christians mocked.

We mocked, but took. The timbrel creed of praise
gives spirit to the daily; blood tinges lips.
The tongue reposes in papyrus pleas,
saying, Surely—magnificent, that "surely"—
goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life
, my life, forever.

--

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Excerpt from ENDPOINT. Copyright © 2009 by John Updike. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.




A Message from DailyLit
Question of the Week: What's your Proustian moment (i.e., is there a smell or taste that evokes a particular memory)? Click here to share.
Message from DailyLit
Question of the Week: What's your Proustian moment (i.e., is there a smell or taste that evokes a particular memory)? Click here to share.
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