Well, pal, is there time now
To concentrate on the real problems?
In the perfect afterlife I would crave
There wouldn’t be anything
For Euclid or Linnaeus to relate to,
Any item classically reiterated
More than a couple of minutes. I hope
What happens is that everything
Is so itself, one of a kind, one at a time,
That, if some Hapax Legomenon
Comes up to you there and asks
“You ‘Dukes, Norman, 1942–1984’?”
You can answer you’re not.
William Harmon is the author of five volumes of poetry. He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His tenth book, What Rhymes, is about the art of poetry. It will be published by the Columbia University Press in 1989. (updated 1988)