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 is Without a Claim, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish in the fall of 2013. Her earlier books include Paintings of Our Lives, For That Day Only, Hemispheres, and Burn Down the Icons. She is the recipient of the Delmore Schwartz Award for Poetry and of a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry and The Best of the Best American Poetry and in Pushcart Prizes 21 and 23. She is author of Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement; editor of Ezra Pound, translator from the Hebrew of T. Carmi’s At the Stone of Losses; and co-translator from the Spanish of Pablo Antonio Cuadra’s Songs of Cifar. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic, Paris Review, Antaeus, Grand Street, the Yale Review, the Hudson Review, the Kenyon Review and elsewhere. She was the Poetry Editor of the Nation, and former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y.