Poem by Wiley Clements

(on a turn of phrase from “In Ampezzo” by Trumbull Stickney)


When we had just begun 

I’d many a love, but none 

so far outshone the rest; 

and when we had progressed

from crocus to heartsease

no other face could please.


The loveliest I had known

possessed but a fault, but one:

that she was she, not you.

Had you her beauty, too,

I couldn’t have loved you better

for such a minor matter.


I sang but a song, but one,

under the summer sun

while south winds warmed the shore;

for I loved but a love, no more,

and the viol played on alone

when the last white bird had flown.


 American Arts Quarterly, Spring 2015, Volume 33, Number 2