Harvey Shapiro, poet and editor, died on Monday at eighty-eight. The following ran in The Paris Review No. 84, Summer 1982.
On A Sunday
When you write something
you want it to live—
you have that obligation, to give it
a start in life.
Virginia Woolf, pockets full of stones,
sinks into the sad river
that surrounds us daily. Everything
about London amazed her, the shapes
and sight, the conversations on a bus.
At the end of her life, she said
London is my patriotism.
I feel that about New York.
Would Frank O’Hara say Virginia Woolf,
get up? No, but images from her novels
stay in my head—the old poet
(Swinburne, I suppose) sits on the lawn
of the countryhouse, mumbling
into the sun. Pleased with the images,
I won’t let the chaos of my life
overwhelm me. There is the City,
and the sun blazes on Central Park
in September. These people on a Sunday
are beautiful, various. And the poor
among them make me think
the experience I knew will be relived again,
so that my sentences will keep hold
of reality, for a while at least.