Book Three: 16

By Srikanth Reddy Srikanth Reddy
I tried to cut through
                            all our hurried centuries,
                                                        lost in a forest within.
                            broke by war
                                                        emerged in frightful shape—
more than human
                            but also less,
                                                        they were quite aware,
the sovereign dead,
                            that time is like a window
                                                        opening up the sad patterns of never.
As one they advanced—
                            Lloyd George
                                                        Georges Clemenceau
Adolph Hitler
                            —through history.
                                                        But the past does not follow
so straightforward a path
                            said I
                                                        (predictably in Italian),
and, burning
                            under their masters,
                                                        they proclaimed
the world a pendulum.
                            It is possible,
                                                        but this gives rise
to the often-heard complaint
                            that repetition is unavoidable.
                                                        Still time issues into today,
little fathers.
                            The years, I believe,
                                                        can be shaped with one’s hands.
The world
                            —its obscure moving fields,
                                                        Persian tragedies,
and countries in peace—
                            I had to inform
                                                        that council of the lost,
remains an instrument,
                            a valve instrument,
                                                        which, when waning,
is perfectly clear in the pit
                            —and, being given
                                                        to such classical concepts
as freedom and necessity,
                            laboriously continued
                                                        in the traditional way—
I believe     I believe.

Srikanth Reddy, “Book Three: 16” from Voyager. Copyright © 2011 by Srikanth Reddy. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press

Source: Voyager (University of California Press, 2011)

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Poet Srikanth Reddy

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Srikanth  Reddy


Srikanth Reddy grew up in Chicago. He earned an AB from Harvard College, an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in English literature from Harvard University. He is the author of the collection of poems Facts for Visitors (2004).
Reddy employs a variety of forms, including syllabics, terza rima, and the prose poem; his poems are collagelike in their variety and inclusiveness. Facts for Visitors was . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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