The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” is a lyric poem written in blank verse. The title is taken from Saint Augustine and gives theological support to the particular mood of acceptance significant to the poem.

The poem is set in the first awakening of consciousness after sleep in the morning. The time of initial dislocation between sleep and waking is often portrayed negatively in literature; at first waking, one can often feel alien to the world, even to one’s own life. Indeed, even in this poem it is a “cry of pulleys” from clothes being hung out early in the morning that wakes the “astounded soul,” hardly a pleasant way of being roused from sleep. Yet immediately the laundry is identified with angels in the awake but still-dreaming mind.

The poem next plays with the observer’s imaginings of angels dressed in the bedsheets, blouses, and smocks hanging on the line. As if on cue, the breeze begins and the laundry comes to life with “halcyon feeling” that fills the scene with a “deep joy of their impersonal breathing.”

The waving laundry is next compared to white-water rapids in their rippled dancing until the breeze stops and the garments “swoon down into so rapt a quiet/ That nobody seems to be there.” This sudden stillness brings the consciousness in the poem back to a realization that the “punctual rape” of the day is waiting, the day lived without the magic and delight of the angels that...

(The entire section is 489 words.)