The term “fugitive beauty” came
to me in a letter. A friend’s wife
had used it in conversation. My friend
is a painter who studied in Paris.
I sought his opinion on poetry.
Fugitive beauty, evanescent, fleeting,
as if it implied a criminality
I did not understand.
Did all art start that way —
alone, furtive, so coiled
in its incubation that it feared
possible success or failure?
Fugitive, running away,
not standing with the norm, the herd,
not strong enough
to be judged?
Or did it mean beauty as Keats meant it?
“Truth is beauty, beauty truth” —
a raw truth, or a new dimension of beauty,
a new adjective
to describe eagles soaring.
like prisoners breaking out.
Out there by itself,
not great, not mediocre,
but flying in its own space
against all normalcy, blasting off
to its own truthfulness,
its own freedom.