Six Years Later, The Same Poem

11 Sep

A lot of people are linking to this poem today, which I think is fine, but I’ve always been partial to this Adam Zagajewski poem, which appeared in the September 26th issue of The New Yorker, the first issue after 9/11. It was written before the attacks, but it does what poetry does best, moving past the merely narrative to what consolation can be found after a tragedy has been documented:

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

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