Associations with a View from the House

By Carl Rakosi 1903–2004 Carl Rakosi
What can be compared to
                                    the living eye?
Its East
             is flowering
honeysuckle
                  and its North   
dogwood bushes.

What can be compared
                               to light
in which leaves darken
                                  after rain,
fierce green?
                     like Rousseau’s jungle:   
any minute
                the tiger head
will poke through
                           the foliage
peering
            at experience.

Who is like man
                        sitting in the cell
of referents,
                     whose eye   
has never seen
                      a jungle,   
yet looks in?

It is the great eye,
                               source of security.
Praised be thou,
                         as the Jews say,
who have engraved   
                           clarity
and delivered us
                         to the mind
where you must reign
                               severe
as quiddity of bone
                              forever
and ever without
                         bias or mercy,   
attrition or mystery.

Carl Rakosi, “Associations with a View from the House” from The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (Orono: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986). Used with the permission of Marilyn J. Kane.

Source: The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (National Poetry Foundation, 1986)

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Poet Carl Rakosi 1903–2004

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Biography

The son of German Jewish parents, Carl Rakosi was born in Berlin in 1903, moving soon to Hungary following his parents’ separation in 1904. Immigrating with his father and stepmother to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1910, he eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin (where he edited the literary magazine) and later earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Rakosi’s involvement in the . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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