Rita Dove


View images and mpeg movies of the Janus Press text.

View images and mpeg movies of the Janus Press text.

Play the entire poem. Hear Rita Dove read the entire poem (2.7MB).

don't lower your eyes
or stare straight ahead to where
you think you ought to be going

Play the 1st stanza (174K)

don't mutter oh no
not another one
get a job fly a kite
go bury a bone

Play the 2nd stanza (229K)

with her oldfashioned sandals
with her leaden skirts
with her stained cheeks and whiskers and heaped up trinkets
she has risen among us in blunt reproach

Play the 3rd stanza (346K)

she has fitted her hair under a hand-me-down cap
and spruced it up with feathers and stars
slung over one shoulder she bears
the rainbowed layers of charity and murmurs
all of you even the least of you

Play the 4th stanza (474K

don't cross to the other side of the square
don't think another item to fit on a tourist's agenda

Play the 5th stanza (218K)

consider her drenched gaze her shining brow
she who has brought mercy back into the streets
and will not retire politely to the potter's field
Play the 6th stanza (323K)

having assumed the thick skin of this town
its gritted exhaust its sunscorch and blear
she rests in her weathered plumage
bigboned resolute

Play the 7th stanza (362K)

don't think you can ever forget her
don't even try
she's not going to budge

Play the 8th stanza (185K)

no choice but to grant her space
crown her with sky
for she is one of the many
and she is each of us

Play the 9th stanza (275K)

This poem was read at the occasion of the return of the statue Freedom to the dome of the Capitol on 23 October 1993.

Copy number one of this edition of one hundred was added to the collections of the University of Virginia Library on 8 November 1994 as its four-millionth volume and in honor of United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Copyright 1993 by Rita Dove. The text is Century Schoolbook printed on Mohawk Superfine at the Janus Press in West Burke Vermont in 1994; the handmade papers are Sky blue from MacGregor & Vinzani in Whiting Maine, Gelatin sized white and Mica rose from Twinrocker in Brookston Indiana. The slipcases were made by Mary Richardson and Judi Conant in Guildhall Vermont. Images and design are by Claire Van Vliet with cutting executed by Audrey Holden.

Of an edition of one hundred plus ten hors commerce copies this is "proof for UVA".

Claire Van Vliet.
Rita Dove.
About Rita Dove    About Claire Van Vliet

About the Statue    About the UVa four-millionth volume

About this document.
The TEI header.
Cataloging The University of Virginia Libraries' Four-Millionth Volume