Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poem of the Week: "Lazarus (1st Draft)," by Anne Carson

This weekend, I finished Anne Carson's collection of poems and essays, Men in the Off Hours. I'll do a full write-up on it tomorrow, when I've had time to gather my thoughts on these often strange, often beautiful, extremely allusion-heavy works. This poem, "Lazarus (1st Draft)," is one of my favorite standalone pieces in the book. The figure of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead, repeats often through the book, but this is his first appearance. Probably the reason I love this poem so much is because it casually mentions Prince Andrei, my beloved philosopher/soldier/man-about-town from War and Peace. Carson clearly loves and struggles with Tolstoy as much as I do, which is just one of the many things I love about her as both a critic and a poet.

Lazarus (1st Draft), by Anne Carson

Inside the rock on which we live, another rock.
So they believe.
What is a Lamb of God? People use this phrase.
I don't know.
I watch my sister, fingers straying absently about her mustache,
no help there.
Leaves stir through the house like souls, they stream
from the porch,
catch in the speaking holes, glow and are gone.
what Prince Andrei said when they told him Moscow had burnt
right down to the ground.
He said Really?
A man who had been to the war! had seen our lives are just blind arrows flying.
There he sat
on his cot all the same, trying to get the string to the bowhorn.
Actions go on in us,
nothing else goes on. While a blurred and breathless hour
repeats, repeats.

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