Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poem of the Week: "Dolor," by Theodore Roethke

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Poem of the Week! This week, I picked Theodore Roethke's "Dolor," a poem for the office supply closet nerd. It's actually a very sad poem about an increasingly corporate culture, but the fondness and tenderness with which Roethke uses the language of work really adds a new dimension. I chose this poem for multiple reasons: 1) it fits my current job search frenzy, 2) it reminds me of my favorite show, Mad Men, and 3), it's a shout out to one of my very good friends who helped me memorize it years ago. Happy Birthday, Clarinet-Playing-Curly-Haired Friend, one week late!

Dolor, by Theodore Roethke

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper-weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pail hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

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