The Omelet of A MacLeish

And the mist: and the rain in the west: and the wind steady:
There were elms in that place: and graven inflexible laws:
Men of Yale: and the shudder of Tap Day: the need for a man to make headway
MacLeish breaks an egg for his omelet.

Winning a way through the door in the windowless walls:
And the poems that came easy and sweet with a blurring of Masefield
(The same that I later denied): a young man smooth but raw

Eliot alarmed me at first: but my later abasement:
And the clean sun of France: and the freakish but beautiful fashion:
Striped bathhouses bright on the sand: Anabase and The Waste Land:
He puts plovers' eggs and truffles into his omelet.

These and the Cantos of Pound: O how they came pat!
Nimble at other men's arts how I picked up the trick of it:
Rode it reposed on it drifted away on it: passing

Shores that lay dim in clear air: and the cries of affliction
Suave in somniferous rhythms: there was rain there and moons:
Leaves falling: and all of a flawless and hollow felicity:
He slips in a few prizes for philosophers.

In that land there were summer and autumn and nighttime and noon
But all seemed alike: and the new polished planets by Einstein:
And a wind out of Valéry's graveyard but it never blew anything loose:

And the questions and questions
What am I? O
What shall I remember?
O my people
a pensive dismay
What have I left unsaid?
Till the hearer cried:
The omelet becomes a national institution and gets into Fanny Farmer.

“If only MacLeish could remember if only could say it!” . . .
And young girls came out: they were innocent strong in the tendons
Hungry for all that was new: and hearing their eyelids were hazy with

Tears and delight: and the campuses brown in November:
Hey but white shirt fronts pink faces: the prizes won:
The celluloid tower with bold intonations defended.
He experiments with a new kind of peppercorn.

And the mean tang of Cummings turned saltless and sleek on the tongue:
And a Dante gone limp: and a shimmer and musical sound
That gleamed in the void and evoked approbation and wonder

That the poet need not be a madman or even a bounder.

He seems likely to lose his investment in his omelet.

And at last I drew close to a land dark with fortifications:
Men shrieking outlandish reproaches till all my blood tingled:
It was ragged and harsh there: they hated: heart horribly quaked in me:
Then I thought “I have staved off the pricking of many a sting:
These perchance I may placate too”: I put in at that place:
I met them with scorn and good-natured agreement mingled:

Their fierce cries of “Aesthete!” and “Fascist!”: and like them I railed at the
Bankers and builders of railroads: I said “Social Credit”:
(He's a tough lad under the verse mister all the same!):
He is obliged to reopen his omelet and put a little garlic in.

And the Polacks and Dagoes and Hunkies undoubtedly dead:
And behold these savage and sybarite-baiting strangers
Had many among them like me well-mannered well-fed

Bubbling over with schoolboy heroics: their line had been changing:
And long in that plentiful land I dwelt honored in peace:
And then schoolboys from Britain came over us flying like angels:

Them too I courted: and labored to roughen the sweet
To stiffen the wilt of a style that seemed lax in that land:
A starch of Greek tragedy: stark Anglo-Saxon the beat of it:
He is doomed to go on doctoring his omelet.

Stock-market talk: still my numbers as mawkishly ran:
(Señora, I could go on like this forever:

It is a strange thing to be an American):

I was wired for sound as I started again down the river:
And my colons went out on the air to the clang of a gong:
O when shall I ring with the perilous pain and the fever?

A clean and clever lad
who is doing
his best
to get on. . . .
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