Singing Lessons

Charles Wright Click to

cwrightCharles Wright, born in Pickwick Dam, TN, who stepped down from the U.S. Poet Laureate position earlier this year, is widely regarded as the premier working American poet today. Presently Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and until recently Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Wright has received the Pulitzer, the Griffin International Prize and a Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement, in addition to an abundance of other awards.  His many books include Black Zodiac, Chickamauga, Negative Blue, Zone Journals, Scar Tissue.  “Singing Lesson” first appeared in Shenandoah 55/1.


This is the executioner’s hour,
				  deep noon, hard light,
Everything edge and horizon-honed,
Windless and hushed, as though a weight were about to fall,
And shadows begin to slide from beneath things, released
In their cheap suits and eager to spread.

Out in the meadow, nothing breathes,
					     the deer seem to stop
Mid-jump at the fence, the swallows hanging like little hawks in the air.
The afternoon, with its ponderous cloud piles, starts to appear.
The landscape loosens a bit, and softens.
					Like miniature exhalations,
Winds stir in the weeds, a dog barks, the shadows stretch and seep out.

Therefore, when the Great Mouth with its two tongues of water and ash
Shall say, Suffer the darkness,
Suffer the darkness to come unto you,
					     suffer its singsong,
And you will abide,
Listen to what the words spell, listen and sing the song.