Osip Mandelstam, “Cathedral, Empty”

Cathedral, Empty (from A Burning Boat) Osip Mandelstam (tr. Christian Wiman) When light, failing, Falling Through stained glass, Liquefies The long grass At the feet of christ, I crawl diabolical To the foot of the cross To sip the infinite Tenderness Distilled From destroyed Hearts: An air of thriving Hopelessness Like a lone cypress Holding […]

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Annabel Banks, “Recognition”

Recognition (from Eunoia Review) Annabel Banks I’d told you that my brain can’t capture faces, leaves me blank and reaching without context clues, some shade of hair or hat, so you waved. Thank you. It gives me a lift. Some cog connects to give pleasure from looking at one who said I looked a pleasure, […]

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Seamus Heaney, “Field of Vision”

Field of Vision Seamus Heaney I remember this woman who sat for years In a wheelchair, looking straight ahead Out the window at sycamore trees unleafing And leafing at the far end of the lane. Straight out past the TV in the corner, The stunted, agitated hawthorn bush, The same small calves with their backs […]

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Kay Ryan, “New Rooms”

New Rooms (from Poetry) Kay Ryan The mind must set itself up wherever it goes and it would be most convenient to impose its old rooms — just tack them up like an interior tent. Oh but the new holes aren’t where the windows went. Comment: I’d like to think myself open-minded. Not a mind […]

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Wislawa Szymborska, “Example”

for Monika Example (from The Drugstore Notebook) Wislawa Szymborska (tr. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Baranczak) A gale stripped all the leaves from the trees last night except for one leaf left to sway solo on a naked branch. With this example Violence demonstrates that yes of course – it likes its little joke from time […]

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Kay Ryan, “All You Did”

All You Did (from Poetry) Kay Ryan There doesn’t seem to be a crack. A higher pin cannot be set. Nor can you go back. You hadn’t even known the face was vertical. All you did was walk into a room. The tipping up from flat was gradual, you must assume. Comment: Ambition, guilt, and […]

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Seamus Heaney, “Shifting brilliancies”

for Emma Askew “Shifting brilliancies” (from Squarings: Lightenings) Seamus Heaney Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep A beggar shivering in silhouette. So the particular judgement might be set: Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into— Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams. And after the commanded journey, […]

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On Mysticism

Of Visitors – the fairest – For Occupation – This – The spreading wide my narrow Hands To gather Paradise – – from Dickinson’s “I dwell in Possibility” (466) 1. Entertaining Dickinson’s mysticism is dangerous. In several poems, she demonstrates a dark realism at odds with flowery diction and a sometimes singsong tone. On the […]

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