Poetry about Poems
It is fear, it is threat not to speak of,
It is standing on the threshold of pain,
It is the figure that looms in the doorway,
Shadowy, funereal, and gray.
It is genesis of firstness, the always,
It is the torrent that sweeps you away,
And makes you forsake all your dear ones
To welcome an awesome new love.
And all because some eagle-flying notion
Has seized you in its cruel sharp claws,
And holds you captive and torments you
To the last boundary of your breath
Until your blood is ready for the sacrifice;
Now nothing can save you from the angel’s sword,
And nothing prevent your final going under
Except a lucky rhyme or somersaulting word.
Then all grows silent in your deepest self,
You hear the sound of every falling star,
And you become a delicate earthen vessel
Filled with the transparent flow of tears.
And you imagine: suddenly the world has ripened,
And earth is mother to the lonely wanderer’s step,
God himself. You think, would have to worship
This ultimate, ecstatic, perfect moment-
And this is only the beginning of a poem.
With poems already begun
pulls in another direction.
Each tries to trick me
into its own time and place.
Summer, autumn, winter, pass.
Only spring is hesitant
to appear here among these words
as if it were afraid
for its blossoms,
as if it were agonizing
whether to entrust
and the promise of May
to my frost-silvered lines.
Don’t Shame my word that tears itself to you
as you tell us not to shame a poor man’s hand
don’t humble it and leave it parched
like a trickle of water in stones and sand
Don’t make my poem live in exile
and go in patched borrowed clothes
crying out among my own
“Three times woe, none of my people know me,”
You took all I had and changed it
made every year day and hour of my life like Job’s
pawned me not to be redeemed
to the dust and ash of the burnt
You estranged me from my childhood with flame and smoke
Remembrance mourns the years cut short
Only the word only the poem is mine
like the seal the golden seal
to your great and splendid silence.
It’s a dread and endless fright,
A threshold of pain and grief,
A something standing at the door,
Wrapped in the gray, thick robe of twilight.
It’s unperceived, primeval,
A shore toward which my heart now swims alone,
Leaving behind dreams and my beloved
To go forth in anguish and meet the unkown betrothed.
Into my blood a though has clawed its way,
A vulture, a predatory bird,
Tenaciously, until it feels,
A last and sobbing quiver of the flesh.
And as for the sacrifice, a drop of blood must flow,
To intercept the angel’s naked sword,
And redeem from doom,
A wandering, hopeless sound.
And suddenly a peace descends,
One hears the cry of falling stars,
Like a vessel, a dry-thirsting jug,
Gathering in the blue-light of tears.
The world’s much richer now,
More motherly the earth to the wanderer’s feet,
And G-d himself must kneel in adoration,
In that moment, so unique and sacred—
The beginning of a poem.