Issue > Poetry
Elizabeth B. Crowell

Elizabeth B. Crowell

Elizabeth Crowell was raised in New Jersey but has lived in the Boston area for almost 25 years. She received an M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia University in 1991. Until recently, she taught high school English.

Lion In The Lute

                   I want to face nature the way two lions face one another—

                       the lion in the lute facing the lion locked in stone.  

                                       —Wallace Stevens in a Letter to Renata Poggioli

                                                           July 12, 1953   

The wind is like a lion in the lute
against the far-reached pines of northeast Maine
but the lion in the stone shore tells the truth,

its black boulders exact against the blue,
the empty beaches bleached with salty stains,
but the wind is like a lion in the lute

and five minutes on the shore's enough for you,
then hot tea, a fire's hypnotizing flame.
The lion set in stone begins to tell the truth.

The fireplace comes from a closed quarry's youth,
hauled stone by stone and laid by an old name
that flows in town like a lion in a lute.

Though you've come for the neatly-windowed view
you don't have to watch the foamy, ocean mane;
you know the lion roars against the stone of truth,

breaking on itself. You've mined it like a  jewel,
though it never sounds just twice the same.
Sometimes you hear a lion in a lute,
sometimes a lion in the stone's hard truth.




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