Poetry at work

So, on my board here at work (where I still am, 7pm, yes, yes, I know…) I added a new ‘feature’ during the summer, namely a ‘poem of the week/month’ (to allow for a bit of leeway regarding the frequency of how often I update it) – I haven’t seen any one stop by to read it, but since I used to read everything posted outside of offices while waiting for someone’s office hours to start, I am hopeful that someone at some point actually does. My internal kind-of-rules for the selection are that the poems should be a) poems I am not going to be teaching in the near future, b) not too long, c) possibly not the most popular poems, on account of people being more likely to having encountered those, d) in English (now, at any rate – the first one I posted was a translation from Russian, so …) .

Today I changed the poem on display for the first time, and on that momentous occassion (ha!) decided to share them here, too. The first one I posted on my board I had only just encountered at the time of me deciding to embark on this venture, the second one is an old favourite (which I will share on a different day) – and for now here is installation #1, which I read and which immediately reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut writing in Slaughterhouse Five: “And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.” (21f) I do, too.

Lot’s Wife
Anna Akhmatova

And the just man trailed God’s messenger
His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.
But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:
“It’s not too late, you can look back still

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,
The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,
At the empty windows of that upper storey
Where children blessed your happy marriage-bed.”

Her eyes that were still turning when a bolt
Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;
Her body turned into transparent salt,
And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?
Surely her death has no significance?
Yet in my heart she will never be lost
She who gave up her life to steal one glance.



One response to “Poetry at work”

  1. john

    To give up so much,
    she knew it would be last thing she saw.
    I wonder what she felt in that last second? hope, fear, rage, sadness.
    we will never know:)
    great poem, beautifully written.
    thanks for the wonder:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.