poetry / Poetry Pairings

Poems in Conversation

Linda Pastan’s “Why Are Your Poems So Dark”

Isn’t the moon dark too,

most of the time?

and Jack Gilbert’s “A Brief for the Defense”

We must admit there will be music despite everything.

I met a friend for coffee a couple of weeks ago. The discussion began with us sharing our guilt over enjoying things such as a coffee with a friend among other things in light of what other people in our lives are enduring–in light of the too much that is the world. Our talk yielded her sharing Jack Gilbert’s fine poem, a poem that found her at the right time in her life, and a poem I, too, needed. There are a couple of Ron Padgett poems I feel are in conversation with these two, but I cannot find links to them online. If you have access to his Collected Poems, look up “Whatever It Is.”

What poem(s) do you look to when feeling the too-muchness of the world?


4 thoughts on “Poems in Conversation

  1. Oh, Andrea, I needed to read this today! Thanks. I happened to read a poem yesterday that is very much in conversation with these:

    Gnostics on Trial

    by Linda Gregg

    Let us make the test. Say God wants you
    to be unhappy. That there is no good.
    That there are horrors in store for us
    if we do manage to move toward Him.
    Say you keep Art in its place, not too high.
    And that everything, even eternity, is measurable.
    Look at the photographs of the dead,
    both natural (one by one) and unnatural
    in masses. All tangled. You know about that.
    And can put Beauty in its place. Not too high,
    and passing. Make love our search for unhappiness,
    which is His plan to help us.
    Disregard that afternoon breeze from the Aegean
    on a body almost asleep in the shuttered room.
    Ignore melons, and talking with friends.
    Try to keep from rejoicing. Try
    to keep from happiness. Just try.

    • Jill, it’s good to hear this post spoke to you. THANK YOU for adding this poem to the conversation. Sending love.

  2. Okay, you two. I want in on this conversation! Let’s have virtual coffee. (And I’d like a little virtual half & half, please.) Both of you, thanks for the wonderful poems.

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