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This poem is taken from PN Review 36, Volume 10 Number 4, March - April 1984.

The Attributes Robert Wells

Here are the path, the field. He takes this way
Setting his footprints in the spidery dew
Hunched from the rain, a sack about his shoulders
Lost as he moves, the sun's automaton.

Only the attributes can be expressed,
The body's useless grace, its constancy
Where impulse has no strength and these enough
To bear the sense of his surrendered soul.


His clothing mutes his skin as fate his soul
Gathering sweat and dust. Body and land
Touch on its reticence and are withheld,
Join there in secrecy and are absorbed,

So that he stays both weathered and unformed
And like these stones that go to make the walls,
Grizzled and worn but if you turn them over
Still white and even, still of the riverbed.

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