A New Poem: “Argument from Design” | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

A New Poem: “Argument from Design”

American poet David Yezzi’s latest composition

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

What of the watchmaker can we know from the watch?
That he was a careless sort, for one thing,
losing a perfectly good timepiece in high grass,
or that he made it for someone equally
careless, all his clockwork wasted.

Don’t try to wind it now. Its springs,
like dried bird bones, have lost their springiness.
The tiny teeth of its gears are rotted out.
And from the age of the watch,
the watchmaker, too, must be similarly deteriorated.

So, in fact, there is a great deal of correspondence
between the maker and the thing he made.
That’s pretty surprising, since
it seems almost never to work that way.
A radiant abstract painting, for example,
tells us nothing of the sad end of the artist
or what put those dark ideas in his head.

Or maybe that’s all we do see
when we look at those paintings
or at a postcard of one
tacked above the desk on a cool summer night.

The causes don’t stay causeless long
and, in hindsight anyway, make sense, we like to believe,
speeding on even after the watch has stopped.

Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus