Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Letter - Anthony Hecht

 There is a poem by Hecht (1923- 2004) whose imagery and power is so haunting that it should come with a warning label before reading.  A poet needs only one poem like "More Light! More Light!" (the title comes from Goethe's last words - and you've been forewarned!) to make his mark.  Hecht wrote in a long career with many poetry prizes, including a Pulitzer in 1967.  This one, aside from its effectiveness in creating a mood that lingers like a fog, also shows his command of form: one hardly notices the abcabc rhyming of the lines, but read it out loud and you'll hear the cadence.  That's genius
                                        A  Letter

                  I have been wondering
         What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
                  It is certainly not me.
         But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
                  Blood knows what it knows.
   It talks to itself all night, like a sliding, moonlit sea.

                  Of course, it is talking of you.
   At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights,
                  The sun plants one lithe foot
   On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
                  Its warm Arabian nights,
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heartroot.

                  Who shall, of course, be nameless.
   Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
                  As I am sure you have, too.
   Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
                  Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver.  My dearest, the clear and bottomless blue

                  Of those depths is all but blinding.
   You may remember that once you brought my boys
                  Two little woolly birds.
   Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
                  Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

                  There is not much else to tell.
   One tries one’s best to continue as before,
                  Doing some little good.
   But I would have you know that all is not well
                  With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

                                                                                             Anthony Hecht - American 

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