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From "The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth," edited by Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow (Copper Canyon Press: 768 pp., $40)

August 03, 2003|Kenneth Rexroth

The tops of the higher peaks

Of the Sierra Nevada

Of California are

Drenched in the perfume of

A flower which grows only there --

The blue Polemonium

Confertum eximium,

Soft, profound blue, like the eyes

Of impregnable innocence;

The perfume is heavy and

Clings thickly to the granite

Peaks, even in violent wind;

The leaves are clustered,

Fine, dull green, sticky, and musky.

I imagine that the scent

Of the body of Artemis

That put Endymion to sleep

Was like this and her eyes had the

Same inscrutable color.

Lawrence was lit into death

By the blue gentians of Kore.

Vanzetti had in his cell

A bowl of tall blue flowers

from a New England garden.

I hope that when I need it

My mind can always call back

This flower to its hidden senses.

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