Maurice Manning: A Contemplation of the Celestial World

(Image from The Poetry Foundation)


A Contemplation of the Celestial World
Whoever had the thought to render bear fat
and burn it in a lamp was touched a bit,
or bored, or left alone to ponder light
too long in some dank cabin: bear fat pops
and stinks and brings no cheer to our condition.
My brother Squire would burn such lamps to read
the Scriptures: eyelids smudged, his head immersed
in smoke; his Bible, like a gutted beast,
spread open to Leviticus; his lips:
for prayer. Then I would go outside to muse
upon the many things which need no light,
the chiefest being tears and copulation,
then others, like remembering glad days
or moments which occur without regard
for stars or lamps—my thought: what matters most
is borne of darkness then makes its own pure light.

              –Maurice Manning
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