Joseph Brodsky on a Thursday morning

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. 

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In