Friday, August 26, 2005

Ars Poetica

would it wake the drowned out of their anviled sleep —
. . . would it slip the sun like a coin behind their eyes —

The idea, the teacher said, was there was a chaos
left in matter — a little bit of not-yet in everything that was —

so the poets became interested in fragments, interruptions —
the little bit of saying lit by the unsaid —

was it a way to stay alive, a way to keep hope,
leaving things unfinished?

as if in completing a sentence there was a death —

— Dana Levin, from Wedding Day (Copper Canyon, 2005)

This is a wonderful poem, I think. The opening two line epigraph can be taken as a kind of litmus test for poetry: could it "wake the drowned from their anviled sleep," or put the light back in the eyes of the dead? And then the idea of chaos and fragments, and how what is left unsaid is the heart of the poem, is what gives light to the rest of the poem. (My favorite line is "the little bit of saying lit by the unsaid —"). I wonder if the "teacher" being referred to is Lousie Gluck, who has been a mentor to Levin.
I am not fond of the last line. I think it's a little pat; tells us what we already know. A riskier last line might have been more fragmentary; as is, it is masquerading as a fragment, by ending with a dash. Still, it's a fine poem. Now I need to go write one . . .


Steven D. Schroeder said...

Is "Lousie Gluck" a Freudian slip? ;-)

Peter said...

Steven: LOL. nah . . . I don;t think so. I am just an awful speller. Really. I think I am a bit dsylecix.

jenni said...

ok im cracking up by Steven's comment, even tho im a Gluck fan.

I like it too (the poem) and agree with you about the last line.