Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year-End Sentiments

I have been surprised by how much I enjoy everyone's year-end posts, even the most philosophical ones. Maybe they've just hit me in the right mood. Even though my stocking was far from empty this year (or ever -- how different could my life be from Joseph Brodsky's?) my favorite today was this poem (below), posted at swoond.

Isn't it funny how you can want to like poetry, and you can really enjoy a poem, but not be entirely sure what it means? I almost always expect there to be some "gotcha" from the poet, as in, "Ha-HA! You enjoyed that poem, which PROVES that you hate JESUS and DECADENT AMERICA!" So I just spent 45 minutes looking for a scholarly interpretation of this poem, so as to be sure I wasn't signing off on something awful.  

The other scenario is liking a poem that turns out to be the literary equivalent of a Thomas Kincade painting. [Poor Joyce Kilmer; I like trees, too, man.] 

Anyway, I didn't find anything about the Brodsky poem, so, begging your pardon, Jesus and America...

Thanks for reading WWJAD.  
P.S. Becca is doing really well since her surgery (KNOCK ON WOOD).
1-Jan-65


The kings will lose your old address.
No star will flare up to impress.
The ear may yield, under duress,
to blizzards’ nagging roar.
The shadows falling off your back,
you’d snuff the candle, hit the sack,
for calendars more nights can pack
than there are candles for.

What is this? Sadness? Yes, perhaps.
A little tune that never stops.
One knows by heart its downs and ups.
May it be played on par
with things to come, with one’s eclipse,
as gratefulness of eyes and lips
for what occasionally keeps
them trained on something far.

And staring up where no cloud drifts
because your sock’s devoid of gifts
you’ll understand this thrift: it fits
your age; it’s not a slight.
It is too late for some breakthrough,
for miracles, for Santa’s crew.
And suddenly you’ll realize that you
yourself are a gift outright.

- Joseph Brodsky
(translated from the Russian by the author)

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