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October 16, 2000 Issue


  • Books and the Arts

    Rereading Old Writing

    Looking back, the language scribbles.
    What's hidden, having been said?
    Almost everything? Thrilling to think
    There was a secret there somewhere,
    A bird singing in the heart's forest.

    Two people sitting by a river;
    Sunlight, shadow, some pretty trees;
    Death dappling in the flowing water;
    Beautiful to think about,
    Romance inscrutable as music.

    Out of the ground, in New Jersey, my mother's
    Voice, toneless, wailing--beseeching?
    Crying out nothing? A winter vapor,
    Out of the urn, rising in the yellow
    Air, an ashy smear on the page.

    The quiet room floats on the waters,
    Buoyed up gently on the daylight;
    The branch I can see stirs a little;
    Nothing to think about; writing
    Is a way of being happy.

    What's going to be in this place?
    A person entering a room?
    Saying something? Signaling?
    Writing a formula on a blackboard.
    Something not to be understood.

    David Ferry

  • Nocturnal

    It is always among sleepers we walk.
    We walk in their dreams. None of us
    Knows what he is as he walks
    In the dream of another. Tell me my name
    . Your tongue is blurred, honeyed with error,
    Your sleep's truth murmurs its secret.

    Tell me your name. Out at the edge,
    Out in the cold, out in the cold
    That came into the house in your clothes
    The wind's hands hold onto nothing,
    Moaning, over the edge of the cliff
    The wind babble unintelligible.

    David Ferry



  • The Chair

    The chair left out in the garden night all winter
    Sits waiting for the summer day all night.

    The insides of the metal arms are frozen.
    Over the house the night sky wheels and turns

    All winter long even behind the day.

    David Ferry






  • Walker in the Imagined City

    Ben Katchor had been a bit of a cultural phenomenon for nearly a decade before he became a MacArthur fellow--a first for a cartoonist--this summer; is this the beginning of comic-strip artists being recognized as "real" artists?

    Paul Buhle

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