The Pluperfect Tense

Old New England school men come to Texas,
Dressing for dinner like Brits in India:
We wondered why Tom Perdue had called his wife
The pluperfect tense.
A Latinist, too, he cared about things
People don’t think of these days:
Pronouns agreeing with antecedents,
The voice and mood of verbs but not of persons,
The way sand blows over footprints.
She had smiled sadly, as I recall.
Rereading Vergil,
It came to me:
The completed act, prior to past time,
The sense of finality apprehended:
Sunt lacrimae rerum.


Walking through the house after the break-in,
With the victim’s sick feeling of fault:
We note what had or had not been valued.
Why do we presume to know their features?
We will not return their visit,
We will not see their daughters’ pictures.

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