When you begin to read a poem you are entering a foreign country whose laws and language and life are a kind of translation of your own; but to accept it because its stews taste exactly like your old mother's hash, or to reject it because the owl-headed goddess of wisdom in its temple is fatter than the Statue of Liberty, is an equal mark of that want of imagination, that inaccessibility to experience, of which each of us who dies a natural death will die.
--Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of the Poet"
It so happened in this little town
That things destroyed themselves
And none survived.
It was very late.
The sun and wind went poking their noses
Into the bones and tin cans and boards
And all the spaces the destroyed things left.
It so happened that every heart had fizzled out.
It so happened that no one opened their eyes
Or said anything to interrupt the sun and wind.
To do that they would have had to be alive,
And it's quite certain that the inanimate do not open
Their eyes, no matter how they try to absent themselves.
The same road that doesn't diverge can't go in three directions
To meet your visitors. And whatever stands reposeless
Without finding the source of its blindness
Without either horizontal or vertical,
Will certainly be eaten by the light inside.
Oh, do not taunt the camel--
If grief should make him die,
His ghost will come and haunt you
With tears in either eye.
And the spirit of a camel,
In the midnight gloom,
Can be so very cheerless
As it wanders round the room.