Friday, January 23, 2009


"September 1, 1939" is a very beautiful poem, the sort that defies the need for explication.  The tone is subdued, restrained, yet strewn with big, capital-letter Concepts.  The word choice and the syntax work--the sentences suggest something mundane, but with awareness of something large, dark, significant happening above and around.  There are passages of staggeringly simple beauty, just the sort one wants to share without comment:

"Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good."

The final lines evokes a familiar theme: in a broken world losing meaning and hope, is there some small way to hold dignity?:

"May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame."

It seems to me a line to take with me wherever, whenever, whatever: 

Show an affirming flame.

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