Poem by Jack Gilbert

This is a poem I’ve been reading a couple times a day this week. I thought I’d share it with you.


Thinking About Ecstasy by Jack Gilbert

Gradually he could hear her. Stop, she was saying,
stop! And found the bed full of glass,
his ankles bleeding, driven through the window
of her cupola. California summer. That was pleasure.
He knows about that: stained glass of the body
lit by our lovely chemistry and neural ghost.
Pleasure as fruit and pleasure as ambush. Excitement
a wind so powerful, we cannot find a shape for it,
so our apparatus cannot hold on to the brilliant
pleasure for long. Enjoyment is different.
It understands and keeps. The having of the having.
But ecstasy is a question. Doubling sensation
is merely arithmetic. If ecstasy means we are
taken over by something, we become an occupied
country, the audience to an intensity we are
only the proscenium for. The man does not want
to know rapture by standing outside himself.
He wants to know delight as the native land he is.


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