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Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Poem Written in reply to Don Share's Tweet

This poem is the result of an exchange on Twitter prompted by Don Share's tweet (in which he quoted the novelist Ali Smith as saying that poets should revere translators) to which I then replied reverence has nothing to do with it -- which as a translator I feel entitled to say -- and he replied he reveres his masters and so on....

And so we tweeted
Back and forth the other day
About the aptness of reverence
For poets and translators
Masterful or otherwise
Yet there was one more thing
I still wanted to say

Because even for poets
I’m inclined to revere
-- like Neruda Akhmatova or Blake --
I would be astonished
If any one of them 
Had ever intended
For their words
To be fetishized thus
Or construed so as to impose
An anthropomorphic gloss
On what is and always
Remains a matter of
The poet’s deepest
Abiding faith

To say nothing
Of the greatest sages of all time
Such as Lao Tzu and Zhuang Zhou
For whom meaning subsumed 
To the messenger  
Would be inimical 
To the Dao itself

And so it goes with
The best of poems
As with any testament or sutra
That it may be understood
More as means to an end
Or an expression of striving
Rather than exalted as
An end or meaning that's
Been fully attained

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