Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Makers

Yes, there's definitely a particular poetic cliche in this unsympathetic day and age: the defense of poetry. It's still relevant! It's still important! We're not just a bunch of obscure academics stultifying in our tenure writing poems that only our colleagues read! Poetry can change the world! It's slightly lame, I admit; Homer didn't need to spend time justifying his existence. (Did he? Actually, I guess he did, against people like Plato.)

But what can I say? I love poetry and I'm totally sympathetic to it.


Who can remember back to the first poets,
The greatest ones, greater even than Orpheus?
No one has remembered that far back
Or now considers, among the artifacts,
And bones and cantilevered inference
The past is made of, those first and greatest poets,
So lofty and disdainful of renown
They left us not a name to know them by.
They were the ones that in whatever tongue
Worded the world, that were the first to say
Star, water, stone, that said the visible
And made it bring invisibles to view
In wind and time and change, and in the mind
Itself that minded the hitherto idiot world
And spoke the speechless world and sang the towers
Of the city into the astonished sky.
They were the first great listeners, attuned
To interval, relationship, and scale,
The first to say above, beneath, beyond,
Conjurors with love, death, sleep, with bread and wine,
Who having uttered vanished from the world
Leaving no memory but the marvelous
Magical elements, the breathing shapes
And stops of breath we build our Babels of.

-Howard Nemerov


Blogger Sarah Smile said...

More, more, more!

9:48 AM  

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