One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding,
to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to

Analysis, meaning and summary of Richard Wilbur's poem The Beautiful Changes


  1. steve says:

    is “fabulous blue Lucernes” a reference to the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland?

  2. steve says:

    hum. i thought it was obviously a poem about love. “Your hands hold roses always in a way…”. He’s saying that her beauty, like the beauty of nature, put his mind “in wonder” etc.. but what do i know…..

  3. Rosemary Lewis says:

    the beautiful changes refers to the chances we are given to appreciate any beauty according to our individual imaginations. In the first stanza the beauty of the fall meadow is changed as the poet imagines it as a lake with lilies floating on it. This is the “second finding” he refers to in the final stanza.

  4. Tom says:

    Maybe it’s about how “the beautiful” as a noun changes.

  5. Kai says:

    I think that Wilbur is trying to say that changes are beautiful because the way he describes all the changes nature makes and how they are beautiful changes. I honestly don’t see how he could be saying our defintion of beauty changes but maybe thats just blindness on my part?

  6. anna says:

    i have to teach this poem to my english class with other wilbur peoms. i was wondering if you could help with some discussion questions for it.

  7. Kim says:

    This poem contains an abiguity around the word “beautiful” that can be taken as the changes one sees are beautiful, or that one’s definition of “beautiful” itself changes. I personally like the second meaning, but it’s not my poem! Don’t try to look too deep into the poem because the meaning is fairly apparent after a few readings. I had to analyze and write an essay on this poem for my English class, so if you have any questions, I might be able to help.

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