A ROMAN ELEGY FOR JOSEPH BRODSKY
At the American Academy in Rome, this reader's latecoming appreciation for a poet arriving to us largely through translation, now discussed in the mouths of his friends, in various vernaculars. Derek Walcott's appreciation, commuovente, for the confirmed passion and quiet combined of these collective readings across Russian, English and Italian: "This unison would not have happened without his absence. This is an irony he would have recognized." As Walcott wrote in Midsummer, "to slow the stones crawling toward language every night": ...For a nail holding something one would divide by two—
were it not for remainders—there is no gentler quarry.
I was in Rome. I was flooded by light. The way
a splinter can only dream about.
Golden coins on the retina are to stay—
enough to last one through the whole blackout.
—Joseph Brodsky, from "Roman Elegies"
[image courtesy of Jeremy Mende's Anxious Futurism]