Thursday, 17 October 2013

Anthology 14

To break the 13, here is a poem - a poem called Poem - by the quietly brilliant American poet Donald Justice. It's not often you come across a poem that begins by telling you what it's not about - 'You', as it happens - that declares 'You neither can nor should understand what it means', that urges you to 'close your eyes. Yawn. It will be over soon' - a poem that is, it seems, all about what it is not about, that boasts only 'the spurious glamour of certain voids'. Only Justice, perhaps, could pull it off - a poem 'most beautiful in its erasures'. But beautiful, for all that - for all that absence - it is...


This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly,
But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.

Even while you sit there, unmovable,
You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.

It is not sad, really, only empty.
Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.

Your type of beauty has no place here.
Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.

You neither can nor should understand what it means.
Listen, it comes without guitar,
Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.

Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon.
You will forget the poem, but not before
It has forgotten you. And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.

O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned!
Nor is one silence equal to another.
And it does not matter what you think.
This poem is not addressed to you.


  1. By coincidence, Patrick Kurp's peerless blog also has a link to a Justice poem today...