Commentary Magazine


The Destructive Will

This, then, is the child’s wish:
To see the earth a dancing flood
And the new home floating free,
And all irrational, outside, inside.
The packed beasts padding through
The comforts of the living room.
And the old man, his hand forced
By the impossible command,
Compass-less and out of touch.
And all the navigational aids
Part of the swiftly moving flood.
But mainly it’s the murderous beasts,
Wonderfully close and now accepted
As part of home and family:
The dumb, the fierce, the tooth and claw.
I read it in the earliest book,
Where all our childhoods signify
Themselves in open imagery.
And this is the image of the will:
To see the globe a watery blot,
History killed, pain stopped.
And this must win us to the dark,
And close our eyes, and rock our sleep,
And pray the coffin be an ark.

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