Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
The painter working had thought: skull
High above black brows, shaven and high,
And the ears close, the ironic lips full
But drawn down, something stone in the eye.
"My old bald pate," wrote bald old Montaigne,
Where the painter sets before you a face
Not perfect but my own." Thus one line
In his journal, putting himself in his place.
Though the gods troubled Plato to be humane,
His daemons did no good to Socrates.
But wit, humility, and hot food renew Montaigne.
In my short time, he says, I do as I please.
When I dance, I dance, and when I sleep I sleep,
And in an Orchard, when I walk alone,
I bring the world's new strange occurrences
To show them how the trees have grown.
But there were the Children to be taught,
And Warre and Disobedience put down.
All swarmeth with Commentaries, he thought.
Yet are we not from Authours grown?
Reformers I hate, yet hate to hear it
When of rich or mean the report is of excess.
Godamercy our weake and joy-diminishing spirit
That dare not use well what it must possess!
Not to plunge Mind, he said, but take delight.
Not lose but find itself. Under the bone
Under the old bald pate, what worlds of thought,
O most imperfect, but Montaigne his own.