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Clade Song 10

"Of Youth Transfigured in the Deer"

Of youth transfigured in the deer,
A pair newly mated, and the awful
Hours between X and Y, all
In a clearing, a white elliptical
Stand of birches surrounding,
Observe the harm already done
And the risk of harms greater still.

A coruscation of heat lightning
Sets fire to the trees. Youth
Is wasted. Distant sirens
Frighten sparrows into the deer path.
Youth is helpless unless, transfigured
Between X and Y, it imagines
A new animal and becomes

The twin of itself with malice.
Imagination is the greater harm.
The young buck covers the doe
And the whole clearing rises,
Shrieking sparrows and all, out
Of the birches, into a black lake
Of sky. Smoke is not air.




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Donald Revell is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, most recently of The English Boat (2018) and Drought-Adapted Vine (2015), both from Alice James Books. Revell has also published six volumes of translations from the French, including Apollinaire’s Alcools, Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, Laforgue’s Last Verses, and Verlaine's Songs without Words. His critical writings have been collected as: Sudden Eden: Essays; Essay: A Critical Memoir; The Art of Attention; and Invisible Green: Selected Prose. Winner of the PEN USA Translation Award and two-time winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry, he has also won the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize and is a former Fellow of the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. Additionally, he has twice been awarded Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Having previously taught at the Universities of Alabama, Denver, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah, Donald Revell is currently a Professor of English at UNLV and faculty affiliate of the Black Mountain Institute.