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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Kay Ryan, “Tenderness and Rot”

Tenderness and Rot (from Poetry) Kay Ryan Tenderness and rot share a border. And rot is an aggressive neighbor whose iridescence keeps creeping over. No lessons can be drawn from this however. One is not two countries. One is not meat corrupting. It is important to stay sweet and loving. Comment: 1. “One is not […]

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Kay Ryan, “Blandeur”

Blandeur (from Poetry) Kay Ryan If it please God, let less happen. Even out Earth’s rondure, flatten Eiger, blanden the Grand Canyon. Make valleys slightly higher, widen fissures to arable land, remand your terrible glaciers and silence their calving, halving or doubling all geographical features toward the mean. Unlean against our hearts. Withdraw your grandeur […]

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Paul Celan, “Vinegrowers”

Vinegrowers (from Poetry) Paul Celan (tr. Pierre Joris) Vinegrowers dig up dig under the darkhoured watch, depth for depth, you read, the invisible one commands the wind to stay in bounds, you read, the Open Ones carry the stone behind the eye, it recognizes you, on a Sabbath. Comment: Titus Techera and I made a […]

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Wislawa Szymborska, “Love at First Sight”

Love at First Sight (from mission.net) Wislawa Szymborska (tr. Walter Whipple) Both are convinced that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together. Beautiful is such a certainty, but uncertainty is more beautiful. Because they didn’t know each other earlier, they suppose that nothing was happening between them. What of the streets, stairways and corridors […]

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Wislawa Szymborska, “Metaphysics”

Metaphysics Wislawa Szymborska (tr. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Barańczak) It’s been and gone. It’s been, so it’s gone. In the same irreversible order, for such is the rule of this foregone game. A trite conclusion, not worth writing if it weren’t an unquestionable fact, a fact for ever and ever, for the whole cosmos, as […]

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