by George Economou
In memoriam —
Paul Blackburn (1926 –1971), poet and translator of the troubadours;
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898 –1936), and others;
Nicholas Howe (1953 – 2006), medievalist, essayist, teacher;
Traianos Gagos (1960 – 2010), classicist, papyrologist, teacher.
“Te quitamos la esperanza,”
the Francoists told him, making him
dig his own grave. And as he did, did he
think Don’t we all ?
My hope. How can you take
my hope away, when I always knew
I would never
arrive at Córdoba ?
Lorca dug his own grave,
and as he did, became buried treasure.
Blackburn went up in smoke, a way of digging
his own grave.
“He perdido la esperanza,”
did he think, but for a moment — don’t we all ?
But hope is the guitar
that weeps for distant things, gives the wound —
¡Oh guitarra ! impossible to silence —
that is forever mortal.
Speaking of birth and death
we speak as if we own them —
“On the day of my birth . . . ”
“In the event of my death . . . ”
though we can never remember either
nor fully possess the in – between
— the suddenly streaming in – between —
from which we lay claim to them.
So when I speak of my friend
Nick’s death I speak of nothing
other than he is death’s Nick now
as are “Tom, Dick, and Harry” forever
locked up in mortality’s possessive case
As farewell biddings grow each day
(until my own day to be bid)
in the plain scheme of life lived out,
offenses to this shape of things
still come, bidding farewells be bid
too soon, too soon.
the ancient poet who binds us,
my well bless us with this bidding,
a due fragment to our fragments:
] twice met [
] what need be [
] good wine and words [
] a lifetime of [