Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Etymological Dirge

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.

 

Calm comes from burning.
Tall comes from fast.
Comely doesn't come from come.
Person comes from mask.

The kin of charity is whore,
the root of charity is dear.
Incentive has its source in song
and winning in the sufferer.

Afford yourself what you can carry out.
A coward and a coda share a word.
We get our ugliness from fear.
We get our danger from the lord.

Credit


From The Father of the Predicaments, forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press in September 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Author


Heather McHugh

A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Heather McHugh has received several awards for her work as a poet, including the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2009

Date Published: 1999-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/etymological-dirge