Gerald Stern


The Dancing - Poem by Gerald Stern

In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture
and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots
I have never seen a post-war Philco
with the automatic eye
nor heard Ravel's "Bolero" the way I did
in 1945 in that tiny living room
on Beechwood Boulevard, nor danced as I did
then, my knives all flashing, my hair all streaming,
my mother red with laughter, my father cupping
his left hand under his armpit, doing the dance
of old Ukraine, the sound of his skin half drum,
half fart, the world at last a meadow,
the three of us whirling and singing, the three of us
screaming and falling, as if we were dying,
as if we could never stop--in 1945--
in Pittsburgh, beautiful filthy Pittsburgh, home
of the evil Mellons, 5,000 miles away
from the other dancing--in Poland and Germany--
oh God of mercy, oh wild God.


Comments about The Dancing by Gerald Stern

  • Rookie Tim Gavin` (11/27/2004 4:11:00 PM)

    The Dancing is a fabulous poem of joy and remorse. The bitterness of violence mixed with the sweetness of peace. The dichotomy of the dancing family in 'beautiful filthy Pittsburgh' juxtaposed with the dancing family in Poland and Germany illustrates how good may overcome evil given time to do so. However, the presence of evil in the final lines reminds us that it exist and cannot be ignored just as the 'God of mercy, oh wild God' can't be ignored. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 1 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: laughter, evil, dance, war, father, beautiful, hair, mother, red, home, god, world, shopping



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003



[Hata Bildir]