By Russell Edson 1935–2014 Russell Edson
They have little use. They are best as objects of torment.
         No government cares what you do with them.

         Like birds, and yet so human . . .
         They mate by briefly looking at the other.
         Their eggs are like white jellybeans.

         Sometimes they have been said to inspire a man to do more with his life than he might have.
         But what is there for a man to do with his life?

         . . . They burn beautifully with a blue flame.

         When they cry out it is like the screech of a tiny hinge; the cry of a bat. No one hears it . . .

“Angels” from The Tormented Mirror: Poems by Russell Edson © 2001. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Tormented Mirror (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001)

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Poet Russell Edson 1935–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Religion, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Metaphor

 Russell  Edson


Called the “godfather of the prose poem in America,” Russell Edson’s idiosyncratic body of work is populated with strange and intriguing figures: a woman fights a tree, a mother serves ape; in the poem “Let Us Consider,” there’s a “farmer who makes his straw hat his sweetheart” and an “old woman who makes a floor lamp her son.” The poems are surreal and fablelike, sometimes resembling brief plays. Donald Hall said of Edson’s . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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