Poetry Friday(?): 1927 (part 5)

It’s still Friday somewhere.  Anyway, as usual, it’s hard to find poems published in a given year, so I go back to Sherwood Anderson one more time, from his anthology A New Testament.  But after that, if nobody objects, I think I’ll go back to archy the cockroach until I get out of 1927 (which hopefully won’t be too much longer!).  Anyhow, Sherwood Anderson presents us with “Death”:

I do not belong to the company of those who wear velvet gowns and look at the stars. God has not taken me into his house to sit with him. When his house has burned bright with lights I have stayed in the streets.

My desire is not to ascend but to go down. My soul does not hunger to float. I do not wish to pass out of the animal kingdom and into the kingdom of birds, to fold my wings and pitch into the arms of a wind that blows in from the sea. The voice of the wind does not call to me.

When I am strong and the noise of the cities roars in my ears it is my desire to be a little mole that works under the ground. I would creep beneath the roots of the grass.
I would go under the foundations of buildings.
I would creep like a drop of rain along the far, hair-like roots of a tree.

When springs come and strength surges into my body I would creep beneath the roots of grasses far out into the fields. I would go under fields that are plowed. I would creep down under the black fields. I would go softly, touching and feeling my way.

I would be little brother to a kernel of corn that is to feed the bodies of men.


2 comments on “Poetry Friday(?): 1927 (part 5)

  1. Jeff Lupo says:

    I think this poem gets better as it progresses. It seems to hit its stride when it reaches “when springs come…”

    The imagery of the “little mole” in the ground is powerful in that it relates death with burial, or returning to/being part of the earth, in some form or fashion

    The mole going into the ground when it’s full of strength is an interesting image. When talking about death, things that go in the ground usually are not full of strength. Maybe that is this poems greatest strength- it deals with death in a way that seems to integrate it with life.

    This is all aside from the fact that it’s in the first person, which I always seem to favor for some inexplicable reason.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Jeff! Welcome to you, especially when you come with such keen insight into a poem. I agree about the poem gaining energy towards the end (though there are some nice passages early on). I like the point about death being integrated into life. Anderson’s image of death is so powerfully connected with the idea of rebirth — and not just that, but with a vivid awareness of living things, a closeness of knowledge about them the way a drop of rain knows the contour of the surface it runs down.

      Thanks for dropping by–I hope I’ll see you here commenting again! Good luck with finals week. 🙂

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