the things we love for what they are"? Suddenly, having this time read the poem backward, its full beauty broke over my head. The poem is not necessarily about a brook--lovingly evoked though its brook-ness is. It could just as well be the one-eyed cat we adopt because no one else will take it in. Or the incompetent oil painting we embrace because a great-uncle painted it. (See Elizabeth Bishop's "Large Bad Picture.") Or your dead grandfather's sweater, which you hold onto even though it is: 1) ugly, 2) unfashionable, 3) pilled and worn, 4) ill-fitting.
from Brad Leithauser: The New Yorker: Reading Poems Backward