We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.
Jack Gilbert was an American poet. After college, Gilbert went to Paris and worked briefly at the Herald Tribune before moving to Italy. Gilbert spent several years there before moving to San Francisco and then to New York, where his life as a poet began. His work has been distinguished by simple lyricism and straightforward clarity of tone, as well as a resonating control over his emotions: “We look up at the stars and they are / not there. We see memory / of when they were, once upon a time. / And that too is more than enough.” His first book of poetry, Views of Jeopardy, (1962) won the Yale Younger Poets Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.