Saturday, June 1, 2013

For Example : Poem In Your Post

For Example

Sometimes you meet an old man
whose fist isn't clenched blue-white.
Someone like that old poet

whose grained palm once travelled
the bodies of sick children.
Back in the typed line

was room for everything: the blue
grape hyacinth patch,
the voluntary touch

of cheek on breast, the ear
alert for a changed heartbeat
and for other sounds too

that live in a typed line:
the breath of animals, stopping
and starting up of busses,

trashfires in empty lots.
Attention once given
returned again as power.

An old man's last few evenings
might be inhabited
not by a public—

fountains of applause off
auditorium benches,
tributes read at hotel banquets—

but by reverberations
the ear had long desired,
accepted and absorbed.

The late poem might be written
in a night suddenly awake
with quiet new sounds

as when a searchlight plays
against the dark bush-tangle
and birds speak in reply.

                        - Adrienne Rich
Isn't it stunning?
Wonderings:  I wonder if the poet she's alluding to is William Carlos Williams, who was a doctor as well, and why she decided to group this poem's lines into triplet stanzas.  What else do you wonder about this poem?
Why this poem, today?  I just finished Cheryl Strayed's Wild, in which the one book she hauls along for her entire trek from Tehachapi, CA to Bridge of the Gods, OR along the Pacific Crest Trail is Adrienne Rich's The Dream of A Common Language.  Admiring this all-too-often-gushed-over memoir more than I would like to admit, I waxed curious about Strayed's literary inspirations and took to trolling through Rich poems on the interwebs and on my bookshelves.  There, I was reminded of just how astonishing her work is. 

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