He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987 and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991. His books of poetry include “A Part of Speech” (1977) and “To Urania” (1988), both published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Everything has its limit, including sorrow.
A windowpane stalls a stare. Nor does a grill abandon
a leaf. One may rattle the keys, gurgle down a swallow.
Loneliness cubes a man at random.
A camel sniffs at the rail with a resentful nostril;
a perspective cuts emptiness deep and even.
And what is space anyway if not the
body’s absence at every given
point? That’s why Urania’s older than sister Clio!
In daylight or with the soot-rich lantern,
you see the globe’s pate free of any bio,
you see she hides nothing, unlike the latter.
There they are, blueberry-laden forests,
rivers where the folk with bare hands catch sturgeon
or the towns in whose soggy phone books
you are starring no longer; father eastward surge on
brown mountain ranges; wild mares carousing
in tall sedge; the cheeckbones get yellower
as they turn numerous. And still farther east, steam dreadnoughts
and the expanse grows blue like lace underwear.
(1981/ Translated by the author)
“To Urania” from TO URANIA by Joseph Brodsky. Copyright (c) 1988 by Joseph Brodsky. Used by arrangement with Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. All rights reserved.
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