Daniel Tobin

March 18, 2021 Tobin Daniel



(Simone Weil, 1943-1909)


Arjuna, among all things I am the seed. There is no creature, living or un-living,
that would be without me.


Bhagavad Gita, “Eleventh Discourse”




Gustave Thibon


“Like someone who has spent long hours among the vines,
Prematurely old, bent, that’s how she looked to me that day
We met in Avignon, who hadn’t picked yet a single cluster,


Her face wan, faded like a fresco angel in the Palais du Papes.
Only her eyes, magnificent, only her eyes alone triumphed
In that shipwreck of beauty, with their look of something


Foreign to this world. She refused our room in Saint-Marcel,
Chose the ruin, earthen-floored beside the wood, its scatter
Of rat merde, its pine needle mattress and peasant’s hearth,


That one small window from which she’d view the Rhone—
Her `fairy tale house,’ she’d say, `rest, fresh fruit, delicious air,’
The fear she felt of losing herself among sensual pleasures.


One time I found her sitting, still, on the tree trunk in front,
Lost in contemplation, and sensed just then a correspondence—
The beauty of that soul and the landscape’s tender majesty.


But how raw her friends suffered her will for immolation,
She who chided me for not having given my true measure
Of stripping myself away. For her, the beauty of the world


Was the mouth of a labyrinth; in the center there God waits
To eat the soul. So in Saint Julien she joined with harvesters,
Disappearing among rows of pendant grapes, embodied wine,


Cutting free the perfectly nurtured bruise-colored fruit, hour
By hour, for days, her sandaled feet bleeding, purifying her
She’d say until `I see the landscape as it is when I’m not there’.”

Daniel Tobin is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Belated Heavens (winner of the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry), The Net, and From Nothing, as well as the critical studies Passage to the Center and Awake in America: On Irish-American Poetry.  He is the editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola RidgePoet’s Work, Poet’s Play and The Collected Early Poems of Lola Ridge (Spring 2017). His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.