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Poem in the Manner of
Friedrich Hölderlin

Yet when the need was great I swore:

Death I have seen your face, you wore

my father’s face and I saw him

in the coffin and accused him

of death: I said

Dear Father, are you mad?

And he who stays awake longest

shall be deemed the wisest,

for good fortune’s as hard to bear as ill:

the blessings scatter like pollen in the August air:

and though we know that pain is to sapphire

as ruby to grief, that these wounds and tears

may lead to odes and test our disbelief,

still we cannot wish for more

sorrow than shall be our common lot,

whether we wish for it or not:

and now I am dying in the daylight

but recover at night

to die again in the morrow

—David Lehman

 

David Lehman’s next book of poems, When a Woman Loves a Man, will be published in 2005.

Originally published in the summer 2004 issue of Boston Review.



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