On Ruth Lilly's Bequest to Poetry
Sing, Goddess, of the gift of loving death,
of last bequests, of passing on through breath
the syllables of life, eternal song.
May Mnemosyne sing of her name as long
as lines spill over pages. May the ink
now dried seem always fresh, and may we drink
a toast to shouts of "Lilly!" every night
we labor, each alone, to seek new light.
For she, infected with this painful urge
to turn dross to pure gold, that one must purge
in notes that far too often spill out wrong.
She knew the pain of failure at the song.
Yet glancing back across the many a page
of a life's reading, yielded not to rage
but love. (That we should be the half so kind!)
What she here sought, we pray, may she there find.