Weekly Poem: ‘To Television’

BY Mike Melia  May 23, 2011 at 12:23 PM EDT

By Robert Pinksy

Not a “window on the world”
But as we call you,
A box a tube

Terrarium of dreams and wonders.
Coffer of shades, ordained
Cotillion of phosphors
Or liquid crystal

Homey miracle, tub
Of acquiescence, vein of defiance.
Your patron in the pantheon would be Hermes

Raster dance,
Quick one, little thief, escort
Of the dying and comfort of the sick,

In a blue glow my father and little sister sat
Snuggled in one chair watching you
Their wife and mother was sick in the head
I scorned you and them as I scorned so much

Now I like you best in a hotel room,
Maybe minutes
Before I have to face an audience: behind
The doors of the armoire, box
Within a box — Tom & Jerry, or also brilliant
And reassuring, Oprah Winfrey.

Thank you, for I watched, I watched
Sid Caesar speaking French and Japanese not
Through knowledge but imagination,
His quickness, and Thank You, I watched live
Jackie Robinson stealing

Home, the image — O strung shell — enduring
Fleeter than light like these words we
Remember in, they too winged
At the helmet and ankles.

 

Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky has written many books of and about poetry, including most recently, “Selected Poems.” From 1997 to 2000, he served as the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. During that time, he founded the Favorite Poem Project, a program dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in Americans’ lives. Pinsky currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at Boston University and is the poetry editor of Slate.

Watch Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Pinsky from Friday here.