Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Lines from Joseph Brodsky's Shorts

To a Fellow Poet

Sir, you are tough, and I am tough.
But who will write whose epitaph?

Twice I have visited Brodsky's grave. It is in the Venice Cemetery or Reporto which was ordered to be built by Napoleon and it is situated on an island in the lagoon. This was done to prevent disease and epidemics from spreading through the community. Brodsky's grave is near, but not next to, Ezra Pound's grave.

The first time I went to the graveside I saw there an empty vodka bottle, many seashells and a plastic folder containing letters to the poet which had been written by schoolchildren. The second time, in 2010, there was just a hat and a rose . . . and still no epitaph.


  1. I must say I went over specially to see Ezra Pound's grave but didn't see this one Gwilym.

  2. Pat, you made me think now about some of the graves I've seen: Dylan Thomas, John Betjamen, Brodsky, Pound, Wordsworth, Stravinsky, Mozart (he's not there), Beethoven, Schubert, Daghliev, Benjamin Britten, and what they all have in common. It is that they are plain and straightforward. Honest you can generally say.

  3. I noticed the item about your visit to Joseph Brodsy's grave was posted on July 13, 2011. That day was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hyam Plutzik (1911-1962), an American poet who died just as his book-length poem "Horatio" became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Brodsky was so impressed with "Horatio" that he translated sections of it into Russian and presented in on stage in Moscow during the 1980s. Wesleyan University Press has just published a new edition of Plutzik's Apples from Shinar, which includes excerpts from "Horatio." See

  4. Edward, my grateful thanks for the information and for drawing my attention to Hyam Plutzik. Gwilym


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