Friday, July 11, 2008

The Portrait by Stanley Kunitz

Kunitz generates so much emotion in this tiny poem. It's a tough one, but I really admire it.

The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.




Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. He attended Harvard College, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1926 and a master's degree in 1927. He served in the Army in World War II, after a request for conscientious objector status was denied. Following the war, he began teaching, first at Bennington College in Vermont, and later at universities including Columbia, Yale, Princeton, Rutgers, and the University of Washington. He was named Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 2000. He died at the age of 100 on May 14, 2006.




25 Comments:

Blogger Poverty Reality said...

Your not kidding about generating emotion. Poetry what it is.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Cecilia said...

i love the line "especially at such an awkward time". such a unique way of putting it, and it conveys so much

8:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

It's tragic, not Ali Ismail Abbas tragic, but still somewhat powerful.

9:52 AM  
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Anonymous Roza said...

Now that was powerful

4:38 PM  
Blogger Chandini said...

Poetry like it is!

2:22 AM  
Blogger Juston said...

wow.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Difficult to read - even though the emotional level is so high for the mother - I still cannot imagine slapping or hitting my children. Obvious long-term consequences.

BTW - why all the political rants here? It would be nice if Mr. Roger could contribute something positive towards the subject matter at hand as opposed to his own anger agenda...

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...I can feel my cheek still burning.
Truly Touching.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

definitely touching.

he lived to a 100! wow.

10:03 PM  
Blogger JR Erickson said...

This poem is beautiful, great choice.

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Blogger tanuj solanki said...

beautiful!!!

6:29 PM  
Blogger DarkenedPoems said...

Wow that is such a deep poem. A poem that can generate the feeling of the writer, to the person reading and to allow them to feel the same - that is a poem worth reading. Though everyone knows that no one can truly know, due to the fact that each person is so different for how they feel or take things.

7:51 AM  
Blogger carlydee said...

The last line really strikes you. I love poems like this. They could almost be prose, except they're just beyond it.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Kafo said...

wow

this is HOT seriously

i felt the slap

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Blogger x:giggsz said...

wow. this is really powerfull.
my parents are going through somewhat the same thing..
only it's the opposite parent.
im almost in tears.
...you pick really good poems.

10:17 PM  
Blogger High School Girl said...

That was an amazing poem! Do you just find them and post em?

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