My Radiant Eye

M
Or is it on account of my radiant eye
I have lived so long?—I never slept

in the study hall, or called anyone
by an improper name. I never urinated in

a desolate synagogue. I never ate or drank
in a desolate synagogue or picked my teeth.

I did not walk into a desolate synagogue
in the summer just because of the heat,

nor in winter just because of cold rain.
Also, I know one may not deliver a eulogy

for an individual inside a desolate synagogue.
But you can read scripture inside a desolate

synagogue, or you can teach in a desolate
synagogue, or deliver eulogies for the community.

When synagogues are deserted they are
to be left alone and weeds allowed to grow.

One should not pick the weeds, lest there be
anguish that the synagogue is in ruins.

When are the synagogues to be swept
so that weeds do not grow inside them?

When they are in use.—When synagogues are
in ruins, weeds are not to be picked there.

Because I know these things I was approved,
although unworthy, after a three-day oral

examination before the king of Sicily
to whom by custom the power of approval

is entrusted. Thereafter, I have worn the
laurel crown—my eye radiant to this day.
28
Rating:

Comment form:

*Max text - 500. Manual moderation.

Similar Poems:

The Lamps Are Burning by Charles Reznikoff
Charles Reznikoff
“The lamps are burning in the synagogue,
in the houses of study, in dark alleys. . . .”
This should be the place.

This is the way
the guide book describes it. Excuse me, sir
can you tell me
where Eli lives, Eli the katzev—
slaughterer of cattle and poultry?
Read Poem
0
40
Rating:

The Circus by Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch
I remember when I wrote The Circus
I was living in Paris, or rather we were living in Paris
Janice, Frank was alive, the Whitney Museum
Was still on 8th Street, or was it still something else?
Fernand Léger lived in our building
Well it wasn’t really our building it was the building we lived in
Next to a Grand Guignol troupe who made a lot of noise
So that one day I yelled through a hole in the wall
Read Poem
0
62
Rating:

Inscriptions, 16: "The lamps are burning in the synagogue" by Charles Reznikoff
Charles Reznikoff
“The lamps are burning in the synagogue,
in the houses of study, in dark alleys. . .”
This should be the place.
This is the way
the guide-book describes it. Excuse me, sir,
can you tell me
where Eli lives, Eli the katzev—
slaughterer of cattle and poultry?
Read Poem
0
36
Rating:

from Curriculum Vitae by Yoel Hoffmann
Yoel Hoffmann
Master Hirano came from Japan together with a priest from the Kegon sect and the two of them drank beer all night at the Avia Hotel next to Ben Gurion airport.
The following day, when we came to take them to the Galilee, they had trouble getting up and barely checked out of their rooms on time.
It was a wintry January morning, and near the village of Shefaram the priest from the Kegon sect asked us to stop and stood by the side of the road and urinated.

On Friday the two of them (Master Hirano and the priest from the Kegon sect) went to the Bratslav Hasids’ synagogue in Safed. The worshippers swayed like trees in the wind. Master Hirano and the priest from the Kegon sect stood there, bald and wrapped in robes, behind the congregation, and the beadle whispered into our ears: Are they Jews? Are they Jews?
When we left the synagogue Master Hirano said to the priest from the Kegon sect: There is no doubt that they understand what devotion (he said shujaku) is. The priest from the Kegon sect said: There is no doubt. They know what devotion is.
On Jerusalem Street, by the monument of the mortar, commemorating the ’48 war, Master Hirano said: Prayer is a good thing. The priest from the Kegon sect said: There is no doubt. Prayer is a good thing.
Master Hirano stood on one side of the mortar and the priest from the Kegon sect stood on the other and the moon rose, big and full, yellow like the fields painted by Van Gogh.

* * *

It’s possible to write only by means of non-writing. When things come from the opposite direction.
My aunt Edith rises out of the ground and returns to her bed in the nursing home. Ursula, my stepmother, is walking backward. All sorts of wilted flowers bring their petals toward themselves.
All we need is yogurt and a spoon. We’ll know what to do with the spoon. We’ll lead it toward the right place (which is to say, the yogurt) and from there toward the mouth. But the mouth can’t be fathomed. Likewise the word that stands for it (mouth) is strange in the extreme.
Or take, for example, the hand that’s holding the spoon with its five tragic fingers. There’s no logic whatsoever in there being five. Like five widows who’ve gathered because their husbands have died, and they allow themselves this movement through the air in order to keep from losing their minds.
Read Poem
0
48
Rating:

Hotel François 1er by Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
It was a very little while and they had gone in front of it. It was that they had liked it would it bear. It was a very much adjoined a follower. Flower of an adding where a follower.
Have I come in. Will in suggestion.
They may like hours in catching.
It is always a pleasure to remember.
Have a habit.
Any name will very well wear better.
All who live round about there.
Have a manner.
The hotel François Ier.
Just winter so.
It is indubitably often that she is as denied to soften help to when it is in all in midst of which in vehemence to taken given in a bestowal show than left help in double.
Having noticed often that it is newly noticed which makes older often.
The world has become smaller and more beautiful.
The world is grown smaller and more beautiful. That is it.
Yes that is it.
Read Poem
0
82
Rating:

Epistle to Augusta by Lord Byron (George Gordon)
Lord Byron (George Gordon)
My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same
A lov'd regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
Read Poem
0
64
Rating:

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,
Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,
At rest in all this moving up and down!

The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep
Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind's breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they keep
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
That pave with level flags their burial-place,
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
And broken by Moses at the mountain's base.

Read Poem
0
54
Rating:

A Thousand Words by Daryl Hine
Daryl Hine
Ce qui est beau à Leningrad, c’est Saint Petersbourg.
What fellow traveller returned from the U.S.S.R.,
Burdened with souvenirs in the form of second thoughts, said
That, rephrasing the Slavic platitude as a reactionary epigram? Thence
One must count oneself privileged to have escaped empty-handed,
Frisked in exit by the incompetent customs of the country
Who got everything backwards, inspecting my papers with a glass:
Bourgeois formalism apart, my handwriting looks like a decadent cipher.
Read Poem
0
49
Rating:

Wildflowers by Richard Howard
Richard Howard
for Joseph Cady

Camden, 1882 Is it raining, Mary, can you see?
Read Poem
0
91
Rating: