COPYRIGHT Poem-a-Day Collection by Knopf. Compilation copyright 2009 by Knopf. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
Page from the Koran
By James Merrill
A small vellum environment Overrun by black Scorpions of Kufic script—their ranks All trigger tail and gold vowel-sac— At auction this mild winter morning went For six hundred Swiss francs.
By noon, fire from the same blue heavens Had half erased Beirut. Allah be praised, it said on crude handbills, For guns and Nazarenes to shoot. "How gladly with proper words," said Wallace Stevens, "The soldier dies." Or kills.
God's very word, then, stung the heart To greed and rancor. Yet Not where the last glow touches one spare man Inked-in against his minaret —Letters so handled they are life, and hurt, Leaving the scribe immune?
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