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Invocation to Joyce

Dispersed in dispersed capitals,
solitary and many,
we played at being the first Adam
who gave a name to things.
By the vast declines of night
that abut the dawn,
we sought (I still remember) the words
of the moon, death, morning
and other habits of men.
We were Imagism, Cubism,
conventicules and sects
that credulous universities venerate.
We invented want of punctuation,
lower case only,
dove-shaped strophes
from the Alexandrian library.
Ashes, our hands' labor
and ardent flame our faith.
You, meantime, forged
in cities of exile,
that exile which was
your abhorred and chosen instrument,
your art's weapon,
you raised your arduous labyrinths,
infinitesimal and infinite,
admirably low,
more populous than history.
We shall have died without having glimpsed
the biform beast or rose
at the center of your daedal,
but the mind keeps its talismans,
its Virgilian echoes,
and so perdure in the streets of night
your splendid infernos,
so many cadences and metaphors yours,
your golden shadow.
What matters our cowardice if there be on earth
one only valiant man,
what matters tristesse if in time there were
somebody happy who knew it,
what matters my lost generation,
that vague glass,
if your books justify it.
I am the other ones. All those
rescued by your obstinate rigor.
Whom you do not know and whom you save.