Ruth Herschberger was born in 1917 in Philipse Manor, New York, and grew up in Chicago. She attended the University of Chicago and Black Mountain College. Her poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, The Nation, Poetry, Partisan Review, and other magazines, as well as in anthologies. She is the author of two books of poems, Nature & Love Poems (Eakins Press, 1969) and A Way of Happening (1948), and Adam's Rib (1948), a book of prose. She received a Hopwood Award for Poetry, the Midland Authors Award for Poetry, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, a Rockefeller grant, and a Bollingen grant for translations of Vladimir Mayakovsky. She lives in New York City.
So If You Love Me
So if you love me you will tolerant Be of the nature that is with me sent. I cannot be a different thing although For your sake, to win you, I would grow Wings and shed thorns, Be weed, or newly born, Anything so to please you, But I'm myself and cannot ease you. Come kindly to me then, forgiveness use, Do not heap on my patent-wrongs abuse, For your sake I'd be different but am not, For your sake I'd have other needs forgot, But I am one And they are of the sum Of me, and will not set me free From my desires, which still follow me. Oh choose, and choose me wholly, so we be All of imperfectness, but summary. Be sum, no fraction, though a fraction may Marvelous wonder easily convey, Yet it's but part And may not be the heart, The whole is all of us, if we use not All strata, love's geology's forgot.
From Nature & Love Poems, published by Eakins Press, 1969. Copyright © 1969 by Ruth Herschberger. Used by permission of the author.