Tuesday, May 7, 2013

whereof the gift is small

Whereof the Gift is Small
by Maxine W. Kumin

          Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

And short the season, first rubythroat
in the fading lilacs, alyssum in bloom,
a honeybee bumbling in the bleeding heart
on my gelding’s grave while beetles swarm
him underground. Wet feet, wet cuffs,
little flecks of buttercup on my sneaker toes,
bluets, violets crowding out the tufts
of rich new grass the horses nose
and nibble like sleepwalkers held fast—
brittle beauty—might this be the last?

This poem references, and uses language from 
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey's sonnet,
"The Frailty and Hurtfulness of Beauty" (here).
Read more about it from Maxine Kumin here.


  1. Oh dear, when I read it I thought it said "asylum in bloom" :) And then I looked up the word, and it *also* means a place of refuge, offering sanctuary :) Ahhhhh - yes, Spring in bloom - offering refuge and sanctuary for the frazzled heart... A beautiful gift indeed... Thank you.

  2. Every line has several small gifts, Ruth. This is beautiful...and so fits what you and Don both see on the farm all the time, I'm sure!


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