We know those tales of gods in hot pursuit
Who frightened wood-nymphs into taking root
And changing then into a branchy shape
Fair, but perplexing to the thought of rape:
But this, we say, is more how love is made -
Ply and reply of limbs in fireshot shade,
Where overhead we hear tossed leaves content
To take the wind in free dishevelment
And, answering with supple blade and stem,
Caress the gusts that are caressing them.
- Richard Wilbur
The last day of autumn. A park bench under the fading sun, the park ankle-deep in fallen leaves. And Richard Wilbur. Such a beautiful melancholy, such a warm and glorious sadness.
Richard Wilbur has long been a poet I greatly admire for the incredible ear he brings to his poetry. His images and metaphors are uneven - strikingly brilliant in parts, disappointingly trite in others and there are times when you can sense the rhyme constraining him - but at his best, he is a poet who combines the verbal precision of Auden  with a sound that is pure Frost. This is one of his better poems (I especially love 'Ply and reply of limbs in fireshot shade') and one that seemed strangely apt this afternoon, perhaps because there was an urgency in the air, a sense of imminent parting. The sense, in Shelley's words, of "aught mute but deeply shaken".
 Writing on the occasion of Auden's death, Wilbur writes:
"you, who sustained the civil tongue
In a scattering time, and were poet of all our cities,
Have for all your clever difference quietly left us,
As we might have known that you would, by that common door."