To celebrate UNESCO World Poetry Day tomorrow, 21st March 2009, UNESCO will hold several events to honour the life of Pablo Neruda. A good choice. Poet-in-Residence on the other hand will pay homage a day earlier than recommended and to another poet, a man whose graveside he has had the honour to visit. Here then is a suitable poem from the pen of Joseph Brodsky a man who charged at the world with full intensity as Sven Birkerts rightly said.
Letter to an Archaeologist
Citizen, enemy, mama's boy, sucker, utter
garbage, panhandler, swine, refujew, verrucht;
a scalp so often scalded with boiling water
that the puny brain feels completely cooked.
Yes, we have dwelt here: in this concrete, brick, wooden
rubble which you now arrive to sift.
All our wires were crossed, barbed, tangled, or interwoven.
Also: we didn't love our women, but they conceived.
Sharp is the sound of the pickax that hurts dead iron;
still, it's gentler than what we've been told or have said to ourselves.
Stranger! move carefully through our carrion:
what seems carrion to you is freedom to our cells.
Leave our names alone. Don't reconstruct those vowels,
consonants, and so forth: they won't resemble larks
but a demented bloodhound whose maw devours
its own traces, feces, and barks and barks.
Joseph Brodsky 1940-96