Perhaps to Heal?

Mark Van Doren (1894 – 1972)

When it aims to express a love of the world it refuses to conceal the many reasons why the world is hard to love, though we must love it because we have no other, and to fail to love it is not to exist at all.

Mark Van Doren

He Loves Me

by Mark Van Doren

That God should love me is more wonderful
Than that I so imperfectly love him.
My reason is mortality, and dim
Senses; his–oh, insupportable–
Is that he sees me. Even when I pull
Dark thoughts about my head, each vein and limb
Delights him, though remembrance in him, grim
With my worst crimes, should prove me horrible.

And he has terrors that he can release.
But when he looks he loves me; which is why
I wonder; and my wonder must increase
Till more of it shall slay me. Yet I live,
I live; and he has never ceased to give
This glance at me that sweetens the whole sky.

As time goes on, and the number of posts build, I have a harder and harder time remembering what poems I have already posted and which I have not.  I was shocked when I realized I had not posted The Deepest Dream up until now.  I think it was because I had included it in a smaller project years ago and revisit the poem there from time to time.   It is one of my favorite sonnets.    Van Doren was not a particularly prolific poet, more professor, teacher, than writer in some ways.   He was not exactly a one hit wonder in a poetic sense, but close if such a thing exists.   If you are only going to be remembered for one poem, make it a good one, and perhaps, to heal!

The Deepest Dream

by Mark Van Doren

The deepest dream is of mad governors,
Down, down we feel it, till the very crust
Of the world cracks, and where there was no dust,
Atoms of ruin rise. Confusion stirs,
And fear; and all our thoughts–dark scavengers–
Feed on the center’s refuse. Hope is thrust
Like wind away, and love sinks into lust
For merest safety, meanest of levelers.

And then we wake. Or do we? Sleep endures
More than the morning can, when shadows lie
Sharper than mountains, and the cleft is real
Between us and our kings. What sun assures
Our courage, and what evening by and by
Descends to rest us, and perhaps to heal?

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

3 thoughts on “Perhaps to Heal?”

  1. I arrived very late in life to Van Doren’s poetry — knew about him as a teacher –but not as a poet so this late arrival “slowly slow” – is doubly appareciateve you posted these two poems, both new to me. The bonus of an informed commentary is something I always value.

    I have wondered how you keep track of what you’ve posted and haven’t and your admission that sometimes you are not always sure. But if you ever do a repeat it will be as welcome as something new.

    Thank you.


    1. Thanks for commenting. I keep track and double check if I have posted it before. As time goes on it gets a little harder, but it is part of the process. I found a used copy of a thin little book of Van Doren that contains these two poems. My local used book store is a great source of poems for this blog.


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