By Russell Edson b. 1935 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 b. 1935

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 has 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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