I've got my Richard Wilbur volume out again, because the death of the great is another opportunity to grow into their meteoric spaces.
See and feel this brilliant (and seasonal!) gem of his:
October Maples, Portland
by Richard Wilbur
The leaves, though little time they have to live,
Were never so unfallen as today,
And seem to yield us through a rustled sieve
The very light from which time fell away.
A showered fire we thought forever lost
Redeems the air. Where friends in passing meet,
They parley in the tongues of Pentecost.
Gold ranks of temples flank the dazzled street.
It is a light of maples, and will go;
But not before it washes eye and brain
With such a tincture, such a sanguine glow
As cannot fail to leave a lasting stain.
So Mary's laundered mantle (in the tale
Which, like all pretty tales, may still be true),
Spread on the rosemary-bush, so drenched the pale
Slight blooms in its irradiated hue,
They could not choose but to return in blue.
Wilbur has done the delicate thing of making autumn speak in fresh ways, and he does this partly by linking it to the dawn of all seasons. The reference to the legend of the rosemary's coloration imports spring, filling the fall of the years, and our senescent souls, with proto-evangelical color.
Paradise is an eschatological achievement. After the natural parents of the race, Mary is the only human person to start off immaculate. The rest of us, we must be made immaculate: "For the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and immaculate in His sight" (Ephesians 1:4). The virginal intensity of love is our future, much more than it is our past.
To come to be without stain, we must be stained with a red that whitens.
Pentecostal fire must be purgative before it can be unitive. The intimacy of first love only really arrives at the end.
This alpha-omega of love's apocalyptic circularity, the ouroboros beneath the feet of the Lady of the Sun, the progress of love "by a commodius vicus of recirculation" (as Joyce puts it), was the theme of my last set of poems, "Relic Radiation: Poems in Protology," and I can't seem to let the thought go. Or the thought won't let me go. And I'm glad to have Wilbur's genius as guide along this way.