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POEM This poem is not addressed to you. You may come into it briefly, But no one will find you here, no one. You will have changed before the poem will. Even while you sit there, unmovable, You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter. The poem will go on without you. It has the spurious glamor of certain voids. It is not sad, really, only empty. Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why. It prefers to remember nothing. Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago. Your type of beauty has no place here. Night is the sky over this poem. It is too black for stars. And do not look for any illumination. You neither can nor should understand what it means. Listen, it comes without guitar, Neither in rags nor any purple fashion. And there is nothing in it to comfort you. Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon. You will forget the poem, but not before It has forgotten you. And it does not matter. It has been most beautiful in its erasures. O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned! Nor does it matter what you think. These are not my words now. This poem is not addressed to you. —Donald Justice Anapostrophe: Rhetorical Meditations Upon Donald Justice's "Poem” I Gerald L. Bruns This is so important because it has to do with the question of a writer to his audience. One of the things I discovered in lecturing was that grad­ ually one ceased to hear what one said one heard what the audience hears one say, that is the reason that the oratory is practically never a master-piece very rarely and very rarely history, because history deals with people who are orators who hear not what they are not what they say but what their audience hears them say. It is very interesting that letter writing has the same difficulty. — Gertrude Stein, "W hat Are Master-Pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them " (1936) I This poem is not addressed to you. You may come into it briefly, But no one will find you here, no one. You will have changed before the poem will. THIS POEM IS NOT addressed to me, but it was not written except to teach me the meaning of its disregard. Its message could not have been more swift and deadly. I know that poems do not mean what they say, and that this poem is not addressed to me except in cunning plain­ ness, yet I am allowed to figure in it only briefly, the phantom of apostro­ phe, with barely enough time to wander among the poem's relations before turning these odd transparent colors. No doubt anyone may enter this poem, so free and easy is it among its new favorites, but toward me it obtains a strange and chaste decorum. I find that enter yes I may, but I am coolly received and soon a servant appears and asks not at all quietly will I be remaining long, yet if I commit quickly everything to memory surely then it will be mine, having not surrendered itself, to be sure, but let us say selected its place among my inward and fanciful possessions. Cacodaemonic poem! It forms part of my self-possession but nothing, alas, of my self-regard. The poem is not addressed to me, resists each of my careful advances, but it has claimed some unaccountable portion, has made itself mine but oddly in my most alien part. The other bad news is that I was one time the handsome contemporary of this poem, but now you will hardly recognize me. No doubt I am restored now and again to regular sources of dignity, but the poem remains itself, aristocratically reserved, I will not say in the special instance before me absolutely T h e M is s o u ri R eview • 71 unfaded before or against the aging of its pages, but there is no mistaking its graceful carriage and the clarity of its rule. For my part I suffer ceaseless and furious daily revision, my author seems not to know what to...


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pp. 71-76
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