Acclaimed US poet Richard Wilbur has published many books and has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is less well known for creating a musical version of Voltaire's “Candide” with Bernstein and Hellman which is still produced throughout the world today.
Here's the title poem of my next to last book,. It's called "Mayflies"
In sombre forest, when the sun was low, I saw from unseen pools, a mist of flies In their quadrillions rise And animate a ragged patch of glow With sudden glittering - as when a crowd Of stars appear Through a brief gap in black and driven cloud, One arc of their great round-dance showing clear. It was no muddled swarm I witnessed, for In entrechats each fluttering insect there Rose two steep yards in air, Then slowly floated down to climb once more, So that they all composed a manifold And figured scene, And seemed the weavers of some cloth of gold, Or the fine pistons of some bright machine. Watching those lifelong dancers of a day As night closed in, I felt myself alone In a life too much my own, More mortal in my separateness than they - Unless, I thought, I had been called to be Not fly or star But one whose task is joyfully to see How fair the fiats of the caller are.
By no means all of my poems about natural things are religious in intention, but in this poem at any rate, one can clearly see that the natural world delights me by its order and that I attribute its order to the Creator.
David Sofield is the Samuel Williston Professor of English at Amherst College, where he has taught the reading and writing of poetry since 1965. He is the co-editor and a contributor to Under Criticism (1998) and the author of a book of poems, Light Disguise (2003).