Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Elegy on a Toy Piano by Dean Young

While this poem isn't about 9-11 directly, Dean Young invokes the tragedy to celebrate life and someone he cared for deeply. In some ways, this strikes me as a more appropriate memorialization of the day than those I've seen or read lately. The poem reminds me of the Auden poem I sent earlier in that it's quirky and playful but wrought with sadness. The connections between some of Young's images are tenuous, but they're there--the poem will reward you if you give it a few careful readings.



Elegy on a Toy Piano
for Kenneth Koch

You don’t need a pony
to connect you to the unseeable
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.

Necessary it is to love to live
and there are many manuals
but in all important ways
one is on one’s own.

You need not cut off your hand.
No need to eat a bouquet.
Your head becomes a peach pit.
Your tongue a honeycomb.

Necessary it is to live to love,
to charge into the burning tower
then charge back out
and necessary it is to die.
Even for the trees, even for the pony
connecting you to what can’t be grasped.

The injured gazelle falls behind the
herd. One last wild enjambment.

Because of the sores in his mouth,
the great poet struggles with a dumpling.
His work has enlarged the world
but the world is about to stop including him.
He is the tower the world runs out of.

When something becomes ash,
there’s nothing you can do to turn it back.
About this, even diamonds do not lie.





Dean Young was born in 1955 in Columbia Pennsylvania. He splits his time between Iowa City and Berkely, CA. He's married to the novelist Cornelia Nixon.

10 Comments:

Blogger You said...

Someone emailed me with some confusion. The poem is an Elegy for Kenneth Koch, and Koch is the "great poet" Dean Young refers to in the poem. The scene with the dumpling is one the two may have actually shared together. Hope that helps.

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