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)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


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

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In