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This poem is taken from PN Review 115, Volume 23 Number 5, May - June 1997.

Retrievers in Translation Mark Doty


The subject's always ostensible.
Here's a hunt, at the edge of a lake
- Como? - boys rushing into the water,
excited hounds swimming beside a stag

while one man throws his arms around
the antlered crown, a strange embrace
in the beast's last hour. By a reedy island
in the middle distance, boaters and paired swans

ignore the action, and the far shore recedes
into a romance of towers and tiny arches,
mountains flung into a haze of blue threads.
But it's not the grand prospect that matters;

what the weavers must have wanted to offer
is a universe of splendid detail, lush field
of incident meant to warm a hall and fill the eye
with grand and comic multiplicity. Odd, what bits
...


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