"These Poems, She Said"

"These Poems, She Said"

by Robert Bringhurst

During his conversation with Krista Tippett, Christian Wiman started to recite this poem by the Canadian poet Robert Bringhurst. Wiman intended to say a few lines but ended up reciting the entire poem from memory. Listen to his masterful reading of this poem, and download the MP3, and share it with your friends!

These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
who would leave his wife and child because
they made noise in his study. These are the poems
of a man who would murder his mother to claim
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not
comprehend but which nevertheless
offended me. These are the poems of a man
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,
she said. These are the poems of a man
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket’s
hands, woven of water and logic
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant
as elm leaves, which if they love love only
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,
and not a beginning. Love means love
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said....
                                       You are, he said,
beautiful.
                That is not love, she said rightly.


From the book The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems 1972-1982 by Robert Bringhurst. Reprinted with permission by Copper Canyon Press.

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is a poet and editor of Poetry magazine. He's the author of several volumes of poetry including Every Riven Thing.

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