Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Poem That Can't Be Written



I really liked this poem I found in The New Yorker a few months ago. For those who love poetry and love to write poetry, this poem may speak to you. It makes sense that a poet would write about the difficulty or writing poetry--therapeutic. And, he/she's speaking to an audience who will listen. It's quite a good poem. Check it out.

The Poem That Can't Be Written

by Lawrence Raab

is different from the poem
that is not written, or the many

that are never finished--those boats
lost in the fog, adrift

in the windless latitudes,
the charts useless, the water gone.

In the poem that cannot
be written there is no danger,

no ponderous cargo of meaning,
no meaning at all. And this

is its splendor, this is how
it becomes an emblem,

not a failure or a loss,
but of the impossible.

So the wind rises. The tattered sails
billow, and the air grows sweeter.

A green island appears.
Everyone is saved.


The poem that can't be written. I'm sure many people could argue about what that kind of "poem" is. Maybe I don't even have the right understanding (and maybe someone could point it out), but I kind of see it as some reflection on the human experience that can't be put into word form. There simply is no way to communicate certain experiences or thoughts. This is the poem that can't be written.

What do you think the poem that can't be written is?

I love the images that the poet gives to describe such a poem. The boat lost in the fog, the boat that is exploring the vast ocean yet wants to return to the homeland. Tattered sails, unexplored cargo, the ship lost at sea. It's such a brilliant concept. They explore the sea for a personal meaning (perhaps discovery) and face adversities. They then want to return and are saved. No problems, no losses--only positive things.

Even the style of the poem contributes to the meaning. I love the way it starts off in mid-sentence. The sentences slowly grow shorter. It's very intelligent.

So, what do you think of "The Poem That Can't Be Written?"

1 comment:

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poem