Four Walls And A Ring - Poem by gershon hepner
We square the radius. Four walls and a ring
when marrying. What happens when we die?
we wonder, asking: Will our lover fling
the ring, or square the radius time pi?
We build a fortress, not a prison, as we try
to stay together in the place we build,
but our circumference reaches to the sky
once all our inner places have been filled.
Inspired by a line by Seamus Heaney, writing to his wife, “We square the radius. Four walls and a ring, ” cited by Adam Kirsch in The New Criterion, April 2008:
Within new limits now, arrange the world
And square the circle: four walls and a ring.
The conceit of that last line, invoking the four walls of a house and a wedding rin, is undeniably elegant. But it is also a little forlorn, even menacing, as though marriage were a prison…Heaney, much more interestingly, sees marriage not as a jail but as a fortress-a strong place one wants to stay inside, not to escape. As always, he sees construction and preservation as more valuable, and more aesthetically challenging, than destruction
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