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  • By Michael R. Burch

Sunset


for my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt Sr.

Between the prophecies of morning

and twilight’s revelations of wonder,

the sky is ripped asunder.

The moon lurks in the clouds,

waiting, as if to plunder

the dusk of its lilac iridescence,

and in the bright-tentacled sunset

we imagine a presence

full of the fury of lost innocence.

What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame,

brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim,

we recognize at once, but cannot name.


Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at www.thehypertexts.com, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past three decades. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages, taught in high schools and colleges around the globe, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music by seventeen composers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including The Lyric, New Lyre, Romantics Quarterly, The Chained Muse, LIGHT, Measure, Southwest Review, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Brief Poems, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.

24 comments

24 Comments


Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
May 09, 2023

I have been asked what "the fury of lost innocence" means. Please keep in mind that the fury is being imagined. The sky is being interpreted through the eyes of someone who has just lost a beloved grandfather (i.e., me). I'm a William Blake fan and Blake attributed the evils of this world (such as suffering and death) to a fall from Adam-like innocence into what he called "experience" and which I interpret as "material existence." In other words, the problem is being born into material existence on this planet. If we had remained innocent spiritual beings, we would never experience such evils. So I imagined a firey, tentacled sky full of fury at the nature of existence, and life.…

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
May 09, 2023

When I commented earlier, I forgot to mention the really captivating image of a sunset that David placed so carefully at the beginning of this fine poem. For me, this particular image - with its sense of temporality and transience - compliments 'Sunset' very well because it evokes the idea of a sun going down on a day and that sense of loss, grief, regret and uncertainty a watcher may feel when relating this to a traumatic 'passing' in one's own life. A very striking post indeed!

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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
May 09, 2023
Replying to

David is very good at picking out art to go with the poems he publishes. He seems to always find something appropriate and usually better than appropriate. It bears noting that we can interpret sunsets differently depending on our mood and circumstances. The sun going down after the death of a loved might seem ominous -- are we really prepared to face the oncoming night without the one we lost? -- when otherwise we would appreciate the spectacle overhead. David's choice for the sunset might seem more ominous when viewed in conjunction with my poem. I myself may never view sunsets as entirely positive again. The sun going down means night is coming. Does the sky rail against the dying…

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jm6783685
jm6783685
May 09, 2023

The first verse is excellent.


But in the third verse I'm not sure what 'the fury of lost innocence' is all about.


When the last lines of a poem are noticeably longer than the other lines it looks as if the poet is trying to cram everything in at the last moment. And so betrays a lack of balance and forethought. As if the poet isn't quite in control. (And readers like to feel they're in a safe pair of hands!)


It's also important to be very wary of word-painting. Words are for wisdom and insight. And there is no other medium that can even begin to do this. The best medium for visual description is paint. So in poetry…

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David Gosselin
David Gosselin
May 09, 2023
Replying to

Hear! Hear!

But also theories may be developed to counteract a perceived contemporary imbalance. And therefore be useful at the time, but represent a stumbling block later on. Or to later generations. And perhaps that's why I emphasise the importance of wisdom and tranquillity. Since ours is an age singularly lacking in such qualities.”


There is much wisdom here. Awareness as much as possible, and humility. It’s hard to go wrong with those ones, whether in art or in life.


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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
May 09, 2023

This is another poem of mine, written around the same time. My grandmother, Ena Hurt, had died before my grandfather, George Hurt, so now they were reunited in the grave.

Attend Upon Them Still


for my grandparents George and Ena Hurt


With gentleness and fine and tender will,

attend upon them still;

thou art the grass.


Nor let men’s feet here muddy as they pass

thy subtle undulations, nor depress

for long the comforts of thy lovingness,


nor let the fuse

of time wink out amid the violets.

They have their use—


to wave, to grow, to gleam, to lighten their paths,

to shine resplendent glories at their feet.

Thou art the grass;


make them complete.


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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
May 09, 2023
Replying to

Thanks David, I'm glad you like them. The language of "Attend Upon Them Still" is unusual for me, but the death of a loved one for many is an occasion for hymns, prayers and passages from the King James Bible, so it seems appropriate to me.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
May 09, 2023

I know this poem Michael, and I'm so glad David has republished it. When that happens I always think that the spirit of a loved one - such as your grandfather - is alerting us to something we hold dear and should never forget. The way you use language in this poem is truly marvellous. I just love your 'bright-tentacled sunset' and the way it still has a grip on you years later.

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bobbyfunderburk1
bobbyfunderburk1
Jun 06, 2023
Replying to

Michael(the Archangel,) this life is a mist in the wind. Don't run, I'll be brief. Many years ago, the doctors gave me a death sentence. I could barely climb the stairs to the ushers' room. During the sermon that night, which wasn't about healing, the preacher extended his hand toward the congregation and said "Receive your healing." I felt the touch of God. Next day I played two hours of tennis, not feeling like a 48 year old who had been healed, but as if I were 18 again. 3 or 4 weeks later, I was 48 again, but still healed. No recurrence in 30+ years. I wouldn't want to live in this evil world for eternity, but in th…

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