The Buried Strangeness


“For God’s sake, what am I after?

Some treasure, or tiny garden?”



Here’s a poem by the American poet, Richard Wilbur.  It’s a favorite poem of mine, about , as one blogger said,

“the hidden darkness and mystery – the ‘buried strangeness’ – that sustain the life we think we’re living, here in the light.”


A Hole in the Floor            by Richard Wilbur

for Rene Magritte


The carpenter’s made a hole

In the parlor floor, and I’m standing

Staring down into it now

At four o’clock in the evening,

As Schliemann stood when his shovel

Knocked on the crowns of Troy.


A clean-cut sawdust sparkles

On the grey, shaggy laths,

And here is a cluster of shavings

>From the time when the floor was laid.

They are silvery-gold, the color

Of Hesperian apple-parings.


Kneeling, I look in under

Where the joists go into hiding.

A pure street, faintly littered

With bits and strokes of light,

Enters the long darkness

Where its parallels will meet.


The radiator-pipe

Rises in middle distance

Like a shuttered kiosk, standing

Where the only news is night.

Here’s it’s not painted green,

As it is in the visible world.


For God’s sake, what am I after?

Some treasure, or tiny garden?

Or that untrodden place,

The house’s very soul,

Where time has stored our footbeats

And the long skein of our voices?


Not these, but the buried strangeness

Which nourishes the known:

That spring from which the floor-lamp

Drinks now a wilder bloom,

Inflaming the damask love-seat

And the whole dangerous room.




<a href=””>Treasure</a&gt;



2 thoughts on “The Buried Strangeness

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