Wislawa Szymborska, “Vermeer”

Vermeer Wislawa Szymborska (tr. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Barańczak) So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum in painted quiet and concentration keeps pouring milk day after day from the pitcher to the bowl the World hasn’t earned the world’s end. Comment: Not even our age, with a supposed concern for rights, a profession to […]

Continue reading →

Charles Simic, “In the Street”

In the Street Charles Simic Beauty, dark goddess, We met and parted As though we parted not. Like two stopped watches In a dusty store window, One golden morning of time. Comment: Weird, this maturity thing. Adolescent desire and all the desperate, stupid thought accompanying should fall away, no? Yet it doesn’t seem to work […]

Continue reading →

Seamus Heaney, “North”

North (from Poetry) Seamus Heaney I returned to a long strand, the hammered curve of a bay, and found only the secular powers of the Atlantic thundering. I faced the unmagical invitations of Iceland, the pathetic colonies of Greenland, and suddenly those fabulous raiders, those lying in Orkney and Dublin measured against their long swords […]

Continue reading →

Kay Ryan, “Why We Must Struggle”

Why We Must Struggle (from Poetry) Kay Ryan If we have not struggled as hard as we can at our strongest how will we sense the shape of our losses or know what sustains us longest or name what change costs us saying how strange it is that one sector of the self can step […]

Continue reading →

Suji Kwock Kim, “Rice-Field Road at Dusk”

Rice-Field Road at Dusk (from Poetry) Suji Kwock Kim After Ko Un In the village it’s the season of dried grass, the smell of burned dirt, gaslight glinting through blackened stubble. I walk home across the rice-fields, brushing insects away from my face, remembering old Namdong who was buried yesterday. What does death ask of […]

Continue reading →

Ted Kooser, “Snow Fence”

Snow Fence (from Sure Signs) Ted Kooser The red fence takes the cold trail north; no meat on its ribs, but neither has it much to carry. Comment: Decay can be an object all its own, but is most recognizable with a bold, sturdy object as its victim (“red fence”). The red fence marks the […]

Continue reading →