Charles Simic

(9 May 1938)

The School Of Metaphysics


Executioner happy to explain
How his wristwatch works
As he shadows me on the street.
I call him that because he is grim and officious
And wears black.

The clock on the church tower
Had stopped at five to eleven.
The morning newspapers had no date.
The gray building on the corner
Could've been a state pen,

And then he showed up with his watch,
Whose Gothic numerals
And the absence of hands
He wanted me to understand
Right then and there.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • John Gorman (4/2/2009 1:50:00 AM)

    With the given background of Charles Simic, it is evident that he is writing about his dislike to killing and death. The use of imagery in this poem is like his others as he describes the setting and the people involved. This poem refers to the end of time and how the executioner is there to explain the reason. When he describes the executioner stalking him on the streets; he uses the word shadows. Right away shadow and darkness come together. Well he did this for a reason, for death is always followed by darkness. Being 'grim and officious' is not a good thing, yet Charles Simic calls this man a figure of the shadows; an outcast. However, in a short time he will become the stronger dominant human, for the world will end in short time. When time ends death will follow. This is a major theme in this poem. This poem follows the form of quintet for it has 5 lines in each stanza. To conclude, this blatant fact comes to mind; why did the executioner want us to know 'right then and there? ' This has many different theories, yet one sticks out is it because he wanted a friend when the world was dead? (Report) Reply

  • William Fiore (5/3/2007 7:34:00 AM)

    For about 30 years I have been reading Charles Simic & Mark Strand and there are so many of their poems that I enjoy.They are wonderful and cogent craftsmen of what Wallace Stevens called the clear enigma. (Report) Reply

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