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Adele Ne Jame-lII



the violets are not withered

John Keats to his brother, George, May 3, 1819




You know how they trick us

with their ionones—short circuit

our senses so that we are


intoxicated one moment,

wonder at the loss the next–

only to have another wave of perfume


hit us again, that awakening

between breaths you know about,

queen of secrecy, like one fine word


made radiant by the silence around it.

In early spring, he said, they come

before the blooming rose;


in autumn they are fast-fading

and covered up in leaves.

We know about that too—and the umbrella trees


at his gravesite in Rome, the carpets of

wild violets you saw around carved stone

where stray cats sleep near the inscription.


Words like scattered violets,

unobtrusive like the clearest water,

like a fragrance, powdery, ethereal,


then only a memory to hold you

in the dark when burned stars

roll violently over a far hillside.


You know our best deeds

are performed in secret, written

on water, he said, as they must be,


the heart scattering its store freely—

one world after another

this elegy, this song of  praising–


Everything you are and know and have

imagined commands you this moment

towards that glorious fast-fading,


when the strongest gust of wind

will swirl a pile of  fallen

leaves madly into the open sky.