Two Voices in a Meadow

Richard Wilbur

Of the two voices in this poem, the milkweed seems to have the better one: the sentiment is beautiful and the words have what you’d call a nice mouth-feel. The stone’s verse is ugly and awkward, maybe almost seeming like a simple case of bad writing. Whatever the verse’s origin Wilbur chose to preserve this contrast. In an interview, he said “the milkweed’s speech is indeed written in one of my voices and was used for the sister’s funeral in a genuine and appropriate way. But the other voice—the ‘slob’ voice of the stone, is also one of my voices.”

A Milkweed

Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.

A Stone

As casual as cow-dung
Under the crib of God,
I lie where chance would have me,
Up to the ears in sod.
Why should I move? To move
Befits a light desire.
The sill of Heaven would founder
Did such as I aspire.