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An EphBlog Minute

I found this beautiful poem tucked into page 64 of the latest edition of The New Yorker. It’s written by Professor Lawrence Raab, who has his seventh collection of poems, “The History of Forgetting” coming out in June.

It’s 100 words, and one lovely minute. Click below the fold and enjoy.




is different from the poem

that is not written, or the many


that are never finished—those boats

lost in the fog, adrift


in the windless latitudes,

the charts useless, the water gone.


In the poem that cannot

be written there is no danger,


no ponderous cargo of meaning,

no meaning at all. And this


is its splendor, this is how

it becomes an emblem,


not of failure or loss,

but of the impossible.


So the wind rises. The tattered sails

billow, and the air grows sweeter.


A green island appears.

Everyone is saved.

Lawrence Raab

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#1 Comment By David On April 9, 2009 @ 2:19 pm


It sure would be nice to bring more of the Arts at Williams to the EphBlog readership. There are a bunch of literary/artistic projects put on by students, some available on-line, e.g, Monkeys With Typewriters. Someone (ideally with much better taste than I!) could post a new story/photo each day — something like “Arts Break at Lunch” or whatever — with a link and/or excerpt of some student or faculty work.

The Eph responsible gets a bigger audience and we see something nice that we would not have seen otherwise. Everyone wins!

#2 Comment By sophmom On April 9, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

I love the irony in this poem, how Raab manages to beautifully put into words, the value of that which cannot be put into words […]

#3 Comment By emily ’04 On April 9, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

one of the best professors I had at williams, hands down.

#4 Comment By PTC On April 9, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

Sophmom- You should do a poetry contest thread.

Great poem.

#5 Comment By sophmom On April 9, 2009 @ 8:26 pm


Go for it.

And here is the first entry (transferred from “Speak Up”)

By Mr. Dick Swart:

Once a day
is David’s way
of taking the trustees to task

With dollars so dreary
and outlook so bleary,
it seems he’s a pain in the ask.

(needs work)

#6 Comment By Dick Swart On April 9, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

Only those in classes from before the flood may remember, but this was the poem used in 1952 English 1- An introduction to Modern Poetry, and in particular, an introduction to the ‘new criticism’:

Buffalo Bill's
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
        and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
        he was a handsome man
                                            and what i want to know is
        how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death

        -- E. E. Cummings

See it here – http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/139.html

PS English 2 was Catcher in the Rye.

#7 Comment By sophmom On April 9, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

Interesting to see the difference the placement makes…

Here is one of my favorite Billy Collins poems: Forgetfulness.
I especially appreciate it as I get older.

#8 Comment By PTC On April 10, 2009 @ 5:34 am

Us bold three, there we were

Until the end

Chaffing groins, blistered hands, frigid salt water baptism

Goodbye to the sun, we sing in the surf to say goodbye

Commitment until it ends

Within the psychotic humor

Chaffing groins, blistered hands, frigid salt water baptism

Never ending, until it ends

The tides rise and fall

Good men live to die

Us bold three, there we were

Well, that is my poem…

#9 Comment By PTC On April 10, 2009 @ 6:04 am

Dave wrote a blog

sitting on a log

so everyone came to gander

He lambasted athletics

called diversity pathetic

so everyone blogged in slander

#10 Comment By Dick Swart On April 10, 2009 @ 7:02 am

This won’t be liked. It isn’t pretty. It ties to The Mad Ave post. The ideals of the sponsor against the deconstruction, literally, of the image. The dream v the slash-action of realtime.

Sunny Prestatyn

Come to Sunny Prestatyn
Laughed the girl on the poster,
Kneeling up on the sand
In tautened white satin.
Behind her, a hunk of coast, a
Hotel with palms
Seemed to expand from her thighs and
Spread breast-lifting arms.

She was slapped up one day in March.
A couple of weeks, and her face
Was snaggle-toothed and boss-eyed;
Huge tits and a fissured crotch
Were scored well in, and the space
Between her legs held scrawls
That set her fairly astride
A tuberous cock and balls

Autographed Titch Thomas, while
Someone had used a knife
Or something to stab right through
The moustached lips of her smile.
She was too good for this life.
Very soon, a great transverse tear
Left only a hand and some blue.
Now Fight Cancer is there.

Philip Larkin

(Prestatyn is a seaside resort in North Wales)

#11 Comment By sophmom On April 10, 2009 @ 11:14 am

Come one, come all,
here issues the call,
a challenge to wit and to rhyme.

Just a moment of reverie,
can create a small bit of levity,
while flexing the right side of your mind.

Plus, a small bit of humor,
might help counter the rumor
that we argue all of the time.


#12 Comment By Dick Swart On April 10, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

The blog at 2am

The financials recede, their endless charts and comments
greying into tedium. The prurient obsession with the details
of campus by those too many years away, ebbs.

Pictures of bright intent but little promise blur
and their point with them.

The W still shines. Let’s try this again.