Robert Bly

The Cabbages of Chekhov

Some gamblers abandon carefully built days 
In order to live near water. It's all right.
One day on the river is worth a thousand nights.

It is our attraction to ruin that saves us; 
And disaster, friends, brings us health. Chekhov  
Shocks the heavens with his dark cabbages.

William Blake knew about that fierce man,  
Irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over  
To measure with his calipers the ruin of the world.

It takes so little to make me happy tonight! 
Four hours of weeping will do it, if we remember 
How much of our life is a ruin, and agree with that.

Butterflies spend all afternoon concentrating  
On the Buddleia bush; human beings take in  
The fragrance of a thousand nights of ruin.

We planted fields of sorrow near the Tigris.  
The Harvesters will come in at the end of time  
And report that the crop of ruin has been great.