"Confessions of a Mask"
These are the oaks that once stood here.
And shall the earth be all of paradise
That we will know? Roll the dice;
These are the nights when praise turns into fear.
These are the memories of a man without a past.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Therefore, let us sport us while we may.
These are the reveries of a man who climbed the mast.
These are the reasons the student failed the course.
Some mute inglorious Milton
Against windmills did go tilting.
These are the seasons of a girl and her horse.
These are the days of sunlight and high skies.
Did she put on his knowledge with his power?
Unseal the earth and lift love in her shower.
These are the ways the humble man is wise.
These are the questions you must not ask.
Was it a vision or a waking dream?
Let be be finale of seem.
These are the confessions of a mask.
David Lehman is the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. He won the 2010 Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP for his book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School in New York City.
Clickhere to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.Please note: Because Slate's backlog of accepted poems is substantial, poetry editor Robert Pinsky will not be reading new submissions until December 2005.