Adventure in Normal Life / Literature / Uncategorized

Poetry’s Closer Contact

I went, and gladly. I missed the first 2.5 readings, but, arrived at the BU Castle (an older manor-like brownstone used for all the fancy schoolwide occasions not otherwise held in the Metcalf Ballroom.

Readings of a variety of poetry by:

Zachary Bos

Alex Effgen

Jennifer Formichelli

Daniel Hudon

George Kalogeris

Marcia Karp

Stephanie Nelson

Christopher Ricks

Sassan Tabatabai

Jon Westling


There were light poems, edgy poems, funny poems, poems about God and discovering God (one poet stopped writing for years because he thought his own poetry was drawing him away from God!), poems that make you picture a brighter future…

Considerations of three eternal questions: 1) Can I know, 2) Must I do, 3) May I hope…

I found this poem to be particularly inspiring and lovely.

Octavio Paz “January First” – translated by Elizabeth Bishop

The year’s doors open
like those of language
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs, sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.

I opened my eyes late
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for time’s uncertain return
through cracks in the horizon.

But no, the year had returned.
It filled all the room
and my look almost touched it.
Time, with no help from us,
had placed
in exactly the same order as yesterday
houses in the empty street,
snow on the houses,
silence on the snow.

You were beside me,
still asleep.
The day had invented you
but you hadn’t yet accepted
being invented by the day.
—Nor possibly my being invented, either.
You were in another day.

You were beside me
and I saw you, like the snow,
asleep among the appearances.
Time, with no help from us,
invents houses, streets, trees,
and sleeping women.

When you open your eyes
we’ll walk, once more,
among the hours and their inventions.
We’ll walk among appearances
and bear witness to time and its conjugations.
Perhaps we’ll open the day’s doors.
And then we shall enter the unknown.

Cambridge, Mass,. 1 January 1975.

Leave a Reply