For Thornton Wilder--December 7, 1975

Robert J. Solomon

You were the wisest of your lot,
You spoke with the clarity
Of clear water. You never forgot
What it meant to be kind, what charity
Meant. You knew your medium well,
You understood people better.
The lines you wrote seem to retell
Your soul. You knew spirit, heart, letter.

Reality meant fantasy, humour truth.
Fun was profound, your language made
Its own sound, its edge a kind sheath
For story. Ideas were sheltered, meanings laid
Like masonry, their cumulative weight
Adding to the world's knowing
But supporting one another. In late
Years you never ceased showing

The imagination needed to affirm.
Before eternity arrests you, you face
A certain period of decay. We will learn
Much about you: pick locks, pry doors, trace
Your days, track your friends, dissect
You generally. Then will you fall
Into disuse, discredit even. A select
Few will profit from you. You forgive us all.

Theophilus knew what it meant
To recreate the past. The eighth day
Is the world's bridge to the present.
All paths offer a circular way
Should we seek them. You knew in love,
In death, you told it in your art,
Something we must know: the purpose of
Literature is the notation of the heart.

 

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