Henry Allen



Tiger, tiger, yearning bride,
come die with me, a suicide.
End without world, amen.
Life once lived, there's no more living then.
World enough, time, coyness, crime,
Last syllables of recorded rhyme,
Out, out, brief candle burning at both ends.
So much depends
Upon a red wheelbarrow and everything,
But so much more depends on nothing.


She feeds on weakness and dines out on strength,
Blue Angel measuring whatever length
I'll go. She looms, malign Penelope
who frets and knit-picks, ordering entropy
She makes my mind up like the sort of bed
she doesn't have to lie in when I'm dead.
My ill-groomed bride is nothing but perverse?
she feeds on weakness, dines . . . or the reverse.


We're swine befuddled by the pearls of June:
The sound of bridal gowns, deft light, bare feet;
the grass-stain love beneath a clean, clean moon,
the saintly woods, the confidence of wheat,
old rivers ponderous and debonair
beneath transparent cliffs of fireflies.
Diploma grandmas touch their snapshot hair.
Arrays of destinies crowd airplane skies.
At last, the daisies give their answer: "Do."
You don't, it's all too much, the mighty dawns,
the possibilities, the real you
undone while dew sifts light on spectral lawns.
O green Jerusalem, as prophesied!
Yet still, June leads the year in suicide.


Honor, boredom, duty, shame,
accident and spite,
loss of money, women, fame,
heresy and fright,
Love, betrayal, anomie,
art in durance vile,
thermonuclear certainty,
martyrdom, black bile.
kill-yourself blah blah,


The world that I've imprisoned will be free
of solipcism, of the Rule of Me ?
dog in the manger of reality,
fox pondering the grapes' ontology.
Manic-depressive, congenitally
benumbed in my epistemology,
or scaring people with my glare-eyed glee,
I name Existence as the legatee
of my enmisered Possibility.


Henry Allen was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2000. Before joining The Washington Post, where he has been a feature writer and editor since 1970, he covered the White House and Capitol Hill for the New York News. He is the author of a novel, Fool's Mercy (Houghton-Mifflin), a collection of essays, Going Too Far Enough (Smithsonian) and a chapbook of poetry, The Museum of Lost Air (Dryad Press). He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Paris Review and Vogue.

Published in Volume 1, Number 4, Fall 2000.