Landscape and Soul

Stephen Dunn

Though we should not speak about the soul,
that is, about things we don’t know,
I’m sure mine sleeps the day long,
waiting to be jolted, even jilted awake,
preferably by joy, but also has been stirred
when sadness comes with a few of its songs.

And because no one landscape compels me,
except the one that’s always out of reach
(toward which, nightly, I go), I find myself
conjuring Breugel-like peasants cavorting
under a Magritte-like sky—a landscape,
I think, the soul if fully awake might love.

But the soul is rumored to desire a room,
a chamber, really, in some faraway outpost
of the heart. Landscape can be lonely and cold.
Be sweet to me, world.


Selected from Here and Now by Stephen Dunn. Copyright © 2011 by Stephen Dunn. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. See