“Beside the Golden Door Prologue”

A Poem by Rita Dove

August 25, 2021  By Rita Dove

Surely there must be something beautiful to smile upon—
the umbered blue edge of sky as it fades into evening,
the brusque green heave of the sea. When I
look up, surely there will be a cloud or a lone star

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dangling. Truth is, the Truth has gone walking—
left her perch for the doves and ravens
to ravage, hightailed it to the hills, to the quiet
beyond rivers and trees. No matter

what ragged carnival may be thronging the streets,
what bleak homestead or plantation of sorrows
howling its dominion, Truth would say these are

arrogant times. Believers slaughter their doubters
while the greedy oil their lips with excuses
and the righteous turn merciless; the merciful, mad.


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Playlist for the Apocalypse

Excerpted from Playlist from the Apocalypse by Rita Dove. Used with the permission of W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2021 by Rita Dove.

Rita Dove
Rita Dove
Rita Dove is the recipient of many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is a Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville.

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