If you’re 84 today that means you were 47 when we met
You came to read poems and give two lectures
One on “The Art of Digression” the other on “The Art
Of Hesitation” I think but could be wrong and when
A man in the audience quoted Eliot on James (“too fine a mind
For any idea to violate it”) you observed that this was not
A problem from which Eliot suffered. Baudelaire, Gide,
Camus, Barthes, Stendahl, and how many others plus de Gaulle
Were translated by a boy who learned French from an aunt
When he was five years old in a car from Cleveland to Florida.
And today is your birthday and I made you laugh on the phone.
Once when I rented your flat I was talking to Louise Gluck when,
Thanks to “call waiting,” then a novelty, Galway Kinnell called
For you, and from that moment on, dear sir, I felt justified
Answering the phone, “poetry headquarters.”
-- David Lehman