Sunday Poem-Blogging

I literally have 5 posts that I’m halfway done with…there’s one on civil asset forfeiture and another one on nuclear disarm that I’m particularly excited about, but it’s Sunday, I’m cleaning my house and listening to Explosions in the Sky. It’s kind of cold outside as the year turns to autumn and I’m reminded of afternoons spent walking around the Delmar Loop in St. Louis, particularly the Walk of Fame where St. Louis notables are immortalized with bronze stars. One of those stars belongs to Howard Nemerov, the only poet I know of who did notable work while a St. Louis resident when he was teaching at Washington University (I think T.S. Eliot might have been born in St. Louis, though he most certainly didn’t stay very long). I was introduced to Nemerov’s work several years ago; to me, the words have a gripping, haunting quality and a very elegant feel. Here is A Spell Before Winter:

After the red leaf and the gold have gone,
Brought down by the wind, then by hammering rain
Bruised and discolored, when October’s flame
Goes blue to guttering in the cusp, this land
Sinks deeper into silence, darker into shade.
There is a knowledge in the look of things,
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows.

Now I can see certain simplicities
In the darkening rust and tarnish of the time,
And say over the certain simplicities,
The running water and the standing stone,
The yellow haze of the willow and the black
Smoke of the elm, the silver, silent light
Where suddenly, readying toward nightfall,
The sumac’s candelabrum darkly flames.
And I speak to you now with the land’s voice,
It is the cold, wild land that says to you
A knowledge glimmers in the sleep of things:
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows.


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