Wednesday, September 28, 2011

At the Deux Magots

No one cares what the song
is they spear filets
of tiny fish from their bowls
and laugh at the ceiling
how lonely this is, the night
has already fallen on the hills
and the vineyards where
the night is bottled but
the light won't go out
the family of man gathers
at the river to drink in
the dusk and accordions
kicking up the dust, the girls
pop champagne into the trees
and the heaviness parts
the waves--oh this is why
the Romans gave up
and died--the lamp
of hope burns even
though I cannot move
my arms and legs, the sun
is gone but not the day

This is a part of the poem "At the Deux Magots" by Matthew Rohrer. I could attempt to dissect what the poem is doing and how that contributes to my experience of beauty (perhaps the use of vivid imagery followed by logical yet jarring jumps to general statements about human feeling or condition), but I find the space of understanding just before reaching definable ideas much more beautiful. If I could replicate or express well the experience that the poem produces, I would be accomplishing what the poem does and so the poem couldn't be very successful.

This poem, and others by Rohrer, feel like Kant's notion of genius and ease in production. There are concepts and structure and techniques, but the reader feels as if the poem came effortlessly and none of the mechanics of production are at the forefront, and also as if the poet himself doesn't really know how he did what he did. Each time I read this poem I experience the same thing, something almost palpable, a physical space I occupy dependent on the poem and yet separate--testament to the beauty and enduring power of the lines.

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