A Poetry Reading At West Point
I read to the entire plebe class,
in two batches. Twice the hall filled
with bodies dressed alike, each toting
a copy of my book. What would my
shrink say, if I had one, about
such a dream, if it were a dream?
Question and answer time.
"Sir," a cadet yelled from the balcony,
and gave his name and rank, and then,
closing his parentheses, yelled
"Sir" again. "Why do your poems give
me a headache when I try
to understand them?" he asked. "Do
you want that?" I have a gift for
gentle jokes to defuse tension,
but this was not the time to use it.
"I try to write as well as I can
what it feels like to be human,"
I started, picking my way care-
fully, for he and I were, after
all, pained by the same dumb longings.
"I try to say what I don't know
how to say, but of course I can't
get much of it down at all."
By now I was sweating bullets.
"I don't want my poems to be hard,
unless the truth is, if there is
a truth." Silence hung in the hall
like a heavy fabric. My own
head ached. "Sir," he yelled. "Thank you. Sir."
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
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