From the Archives

A Christmas Card of Halley's Comet

Howard Nemerov

The fast and faint and temporary star,
Dragging the streak of tail that in our comic books
Is the artist's way of representing speed,

Heads out diagonally across the field
Of royal blue darkness with some specks of stars,
Where, absent the beasts, the shepherds, and the kings,

The unmanned universe remains, traversed
By this ice-blue burning snowball that returns
At the interval of an aged person's life

And wastes the rest of time crossing the cast
That separates one nothing from the next.
Words fail us, and The Word, that failed before.

Howard Nemerov Howard Nemerov was twice Poet Laureate of the United States. He died in 1991 after a distinguished life as a poet.
Originally published:
December 1, 1986

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