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I Am Astonished at the Sunflowers Spinning

I am astonished at the sunflowers spinning
in huge green meadows above the indigo sea,
amazed at their aureate silence, though they sing
with the inaudible hum of the clocks over Recanati.
Do they turn to face the dusk, just as an army
might obey the last orders of a sinking empire,
their wheels stuck in one rut before the small studs
of stars and the fireflies’ meandering fire,
then droop like exhausted meteors in soft thuds
to the earth? In our life elsewhere, sunflowers
come singly but in this coastal province
there can be entire fields of their temporal powers
spread like the cloak of some Renaissance prince,
their banners will wilt, their gold helms fill the void;
they are poems we recite to ourselves, metaphors
of our brief glory, a light we cannot avoid
that was called heaven in Blake’s time, but not since.

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