PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

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.

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image