Room with a view



Goldfinches by day, sun set in the middle of the Golden Gate, and a poem that expresses the delight of a favorable day:

On Being Asked to Define Bourgeois Individuality

This poem is about being middle class.
It is about having time left over.

Kings have no time left over, they have
to kill their usurpers; peasants have
no time left over, they have to milk
cows that are endless, cows
that have to be milked
or they will spoil.

This is a poem about my sitting
in a house in St. John’s Wood, London,
a house that has been loaned to me
and thinking
what is it I most want to do
with this favorable day?

It is about Charles Darwin
getting up in the morning, thinking
a good day to begin
the Origin of the Species.
Or a good day to go for a long country walk.

This poem thinks of a nineteenth-century world,
a bourgeois world: under the green glass lamp,
at evening around the circular family table,
my daughters work at their sensitive water colors.

At morning, a table is laid for morning.
I have thought carefully about where to procure
the sausages.  I have instructed the servants.

This is the world out of which,
as soon as morning is established as being morning,
I can escape.

Not kings escape, not members of
Parliament, not judges
in their strange wigs.  I escape
into that immense room, that immense meadow.

It is the place, the room, of available time.
I eat a time no other person has eaten.
Neither an animal nor a mineral even has eaten.

To the question, I say, this is
bourgeois individuality.
What we buy with our bodies and our lives
is time.

Cherish it.
Neither you nor I
will ever go to bed
with a better lover.

William Dickey

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