The Beautiful Changes
By Richard Wilbur
One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.
The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.
Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.
About the author
Richard Wilbur (1921 – 2012) was born in New York City. He was 1 of the most acclaimed and honored American poets of the 20th century. Wilbur was the second poet laureate of the United States. Daniel Boorstin, the Librarian of Congress, announced Wilbur as “a poet for all of us, whose elegant words brim with wit and paradox.”
During his lifetime, Richard Wilbur won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his collection Things of This World: Poems in 1957. He won a second Pulitzer for New and Collected Poems (1988). Wilbur received of numerous honors and awards, including the Wallace Stevens Award, the Frost Medal, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, two Bollingen Prizes, the T.S. Eliot Award, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award, the Prix de Rome Fellowship and many more honors, fellowships and awards for his poetry.
Fluent in French, Wilbur was also recognized for achievement in translation. His translations of French verse, particularly Voltaire’s Candide and the plays of Moliere and Racine, are highly regarded by critics. His translation of Moliere’s Tartuffe won the 1971 Bollingen Prize.