Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting


Elizabeth,
The Lodge at Woodstock – 1554.

Less than the charting of each dawn’s resolutions,
less than each evening’s trickle of doubt,
less than a crown’s weight in silver, a diamond’s
scratch against glass, less than the touted
ill luck of my rich beginnings — and yet
more than Eve’s silence, my mute ingratitude.
More than music’s safe passage, its rapturous net,
more than this stockpile of words, their liquid solicitude;
more desired than praise (the least-prized of my dreams),
less real than dreaming (castle keep for my sins),
more than no more, which seems
much less than hoped – for, again —
one mutiny, quelled; one wish lost, a forgotten treasure:
to live without scrutiny, beyond constant measure.

– Rita Dove
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