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Ode To Meaning Analysis

Author: poem of Robert Pinsky Type: poem Views: 14

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Dire one and desired one,

Savior, sentencer--

In an old allegory you would carry

A chained alphabet of tokens:

Ankh Badge Cross.


Engraved figure guarding a hallowed intaglio,

Jasper kinema of legendary Mind,

Naked omphalos pierced

By quills of rhyme or sense, torah-like:  unborn

Vein of will, xenophile

Yearning out of Zero.

Untrusting I court you.  Wavering

I seek your face, I read

That Crusoe's knife

Reeked of you, that to defile you

The soldier makes the rabbi spit on the torah.

"I'll drown my book" says Shakespeare.

Drowned walker, revenant.

After my mother fell on her head, she became

More than ever your sworn enemy.  She spoke

Sometimes like a poet or critic of forty years later.

Or she spoke of the world as Thersites spoke of the heroes,

"I think they have swallowed one another.  I

Would laugh at that miracle."

You also in the laughter, warrior angel:

Your helmet the zodiac, rocket-plumed

Your spear the beggar's finger pointing to the mouth

Your heel planted on the serpent Formulation

Your face a vapor, the wreath of cigarette smoke crowning

Bogart as he winces through it.

You not in the words, not even

Between the words, but a torsion,

A cleavage, a stirring.

You stirring even in the arctic ice,

Even at the dark ocean floor, even

In the cellular flesh of a stone.

Gas.  Gossamer.  My poker friends

Question your presence

In a poem by me, passing the magazine

One to another.

Not the stone and not the words, you

Like a veil over Arthur's headstone,

The passage from Proverbs he chose

While he was too ill to teach

And still well enough to read, I was

Beside the master craftsman

Delighting him day after day, ever

At play in his presence

A soothing veil of distraction playing over

Dying Arthur playing in the hospital,

Thumbing the Bible, fuzzy from medication,

Ever courting your presence,

And you the prognosis,

You in the cough.

Gesturer, when is your spur, your cloud?

You in the airport rituals of greeting and parting.

Indicter, who is your claimant?

Bell at the gate.  Spiderweb iron bridge.

Cloak, video, aroma, rue, what is your

Elected silence, where was your seed?

What is Imagination

But your lost child born to give birth to you?

Dire one.  Desired one.

Savior, sentencer--


Or presence ever at play:

Let those scorn you who never

Starved in your dearth.  If I

Dare to disparage

Your harp of shadows I taste

Wormwood and motor oil, I pour

Ashes on my head.  You are the wound.  You

Be the medicine.


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