Joseph Brodsky on a Thursday morning

More

I wanted to say something about the importance of poetry, and then I thought a good poem speaks for itself. I've come to regret a lot of what I feel I missed out on in public school. I missed out on Brodsky, and what it means to memorize a poem, and walk around with those lines in my head. I think about hearing a student yesterday laughing at the skill level of Vanilla Ice, and then proceeding to chant the hook from memory. What if he knew this Brodsky piece, even just a few lines of it? Or if he could hear Brutus in his head, or Etheridge Knight. Whatever. I figured I wouldn't rightfully be a poet if I didn't put a poem up for you guys during my short time here. So enjoy Brodsky and his subtle rhymes.


May 24, 1980

by Joseph Brodsky

 

I have braved, for want of wild beasts, steel cages,

carved my term and nickname on bunks and rafters,

lived by the sea, flashed aces in an oasis,

dined with the-devil-knows-whom, in tails, on truffles.

From the height of a glacier I beheld half a world, the earthly

width. Twice have drowned, thrice let knives rake my nitty-gritty.

Quit the country that bore and nursed me.

Those who forgot me would make a city.

I have waded the steppes that saw yelling Huns in saddles,

worn the clothes nowadays back in fashion in every quarter,

planted rye, tarred the roofs of pigsties and stables,

guzzled everything save dry water.

I've admitted the sentries' third eye into my wet and foul

dreams. Munched the bread of exile; it's stale and warty.

Granted my lungs all sounds except the howl;

switched to a whisper. Now I am forty.

What should I say about my life? That it's long and abhors transparence.

Broken eggs make me grieve; the omelet, though, makes me vomit.

Yet until brown clay has been rammed down my larynx,

only gratitude will be gushing from it. 

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In