anselm’s webern poem

This morning, thinking of old friend Anselm Hollo now in hospice, I read into MAYA, that gorgeous 1970 Cape Golliard book of his, gathering poems from 1959 to 1969. Here is the one that spoke to me most right now:

w e b e r n

1

switch off the light
the trees stand together

easier then
to be in our bodies

growing quietly
‘dem tode entgegen’

slow it is
a slow business

to grow a few words
to say love

2

“who will have mercy upon us
if we
     have none”

merci  is thanks
say thanks
for the small mercies

such as the breath
and the hand
      still moving

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Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

3 opinions on “anselm’s webern poem”

  1. It’s powerful stuff – I wish I were have effective with such minimal speech. He makes the slow business, the small mercies, seem so much more graceful than felt at times.

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