“The best aphorisms are poems or novels in capsule form.” – Alfred Corn
Corn, born Georgia on this date in 1943, earned degrees from Emory and Columbia before starting his career as a college professor and writer. The author of 8 books of poems, he has received fellowships and prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, & the Academy of American Poets.
He also writes art criticism for Art in America and ARTnews magazines. For Saturday’s Poem here is Corn’s,
Promised Land Valley, June '73
The lake at nightfall is less a lake,
but more, with reflection added, so
this giant inkblot lies on its side,
a bristling zone of black pine and fir
at the dark fold of the revealed world.
Interpret this fallen symmetry,
scan this water and these water lights,
and follow a golden scribble toward
the lantern, the guessed boat, the voices
that skip across sky to where we stand.
You are vanishing and so am I
as everything surrenders color,
falling silent to vision. Darkness
rises to drown out the sky and silence
names us to the asking boat.
Who echoes who in the black mirror?
Riddles are answers here at the edge.
And still, we can imagine some clear call,
a spoken brilliance blazing the trail . . .
ourselves moving out across the sky.
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