Grace Schulman

Poet’s Walk, Central Park Mall
August 9, 2013 Schulman Grace

Poet’s Walk, Central Park Mall

 

Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Fitz-Greene Halleck

sit back in bronze with its metallic claims

to permanence above the passing frolic.

 

Elm leaves drift from high branches in a panic

of mustard, amber and pale yellow flame

to shower Shakespeare, Burns, and Fitz-Greene Halleck.

 

Workers rake leaves that whirl in parabolic

arcs, away and back in greater volume.

Leaves drape lovers in the passing frolic

 

and wreathe Shakespeare, acting his prince in tragic

grandeur, who declaims, Had I but time . . .

Oh, I could tell you, Burns and Fitz-Greene Halleck.

 

Break dancers gyrate to brash hi-fi’s

as leaves burnish the pasty face of a mime,

and redden toddlers in the park’s frolic,

 

Nearby, Cleopatra’s needle rises, phallic,

remembering, like the statues that acclaim

Shakespeare and Burns. But who was Fitz-Greene Halleck?

 

I’ve read his bronze unveiling drew historic

top hats, parasols, and mutton sleeves. Time

forgets, but not here. In stark contrast to the frolic,

with Burns and Shakespeare, is Fitz-Greene Halleck.

Grace Schulman‘s newest book of poems is The Marble Bed, Forthcoming from Turtle Point Press in October, 2020. Her previous collections include Without a Claim, The Broken String, The Paintings of Our Lives, For That Day Only, Hemispheres, and Burn Down the Icons. She is the author of Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage, and First Loves, a collection of essays. Schulman is recipient of the Frost Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Other honors include a Pushcart Prize and the Aiken-Taylor Award. Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y., she is editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore. She is a former Poetry Editor of The Nation (1971-2006) and Director, The Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y.