General Editor: Marc R. Plamondon

Representative Poetry Online, edition 6.0, is a web anthology of 4,800 poems in English and French by over 700 poets spanning 1400 years.  more about RPO
New poet: Émile Nelligan





The Explorers

1The explorers will come
2in several minutes
3and find this island.
4(It is a stunted island,
5rocky, with room
6for only a few trees, a thin
7layer of soil; hardly
8bigger than a bed.
9That is how
10they've missed it
11until now)
12Already their boats draw near,
13their flags flutter,
14their oars push at the water.
15They will be jubilant
16and shout, at finding
17that there was something
18they had not found before.
19although this island will afford
20not much more than a foothold:
21little to explore;
22but they will be surprised
23(we can't see them yet;
24we know they must be
25coming, because they always come
26several minutes too late)
27(they won't be able
28to tell how long
29we were cast away, or why,
30or, from these
31gnawed bones,
32which was the survivor)
33at the two skeletons
 What thou lovest well remains,
                  the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
                or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
    Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
Ezra Pound Pisan Cantos, LXXXI