Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
When Margaret Fuller said, "I accept the universe,"
Carlyle remarked, "She does! By God, she'd better."
He was wrong. He meant mere woman, or for that matter
Man, submits unquestioning, for better or for worse.
Or meant that that vastness overhead and roundabout
But suffers mankind, or is more probably unaware
This form of life exists, so could not care
What even Carlyle, much less a Margaret Fuller thought.
She claimed what he denied she had, the choice.
Magnificent Margaret! arrogant, one-willed, human,
Well-read, simple, not-to-be-silenced Cambridge woman.
It obviously needed saying. She gave it voice.
It takes us all our lives to accept what we are,
If we ever do, or large gifts, or geography, or praise.
All our days do not teach us how with unamaze
To face one more, neither with fear nor without fear.
I have come to accept bits and parts of the universe,
Hot food, cumulus cloud, starlight, a woman in bed,
And the thought of other haphazard acceptors dead
Lacking my mathematics, color, time, ice, grass.
I am late, it is enough, I am glad not to forget
One world as in time. I accept summer and spring,
Autumn and not winter, light and not lightning,
And not Carlyle, but by God I accept Margaret.