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Lay for the Day
6th May

1914: the birthday of the American poet Randall Jarrell.
From the book of Praises:

88. Of Randall Jarrell

The beard never was that Santa-
white it promised…

Striking down slantwise above the left brow,
across two thinner parallel furrows,
one wrinkle makes the sign, in a faceful
of crinkling whisker and drooped glinting eye,
the sign known to science as “not equal”.

The pupils come forward brightly, are brown
I’d say from this black and white portrait – crow’s-
foot rich with effort also to withdraw
from a world too much with us, coming closer –
after his subtraction, still not equal.

What was promised?
The bird’s nervous wing – surrender –


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar