1 January 1965

By Joseph Brodsky 1940–1996 Joseph Brodsky
The Wise Men will unlearn your name.
Above your head no star will flame.
One weary sound will be the same—
the hoarse roar of the gale.
The shadows fall from your tired eyes
as your lone bedside candle dies,
for here the calendar breeds nights
till stores of candles fail.

What prompts this melancholy key?
A long familiar melody.
It sounds again. So let it be.
Let it sound from this night.
Let it sound in my hour of  death—
as gratefulness of eyes and lips
for that which sometimes makes us lift
our gaze to the far sky.

You glare in silence at the wall.
Your stocking gapes: no gifts at all.
It's clear that you are now too old
to trust in good Saint Nick;
that it's too late for miracles.
—But suddenly, lifting your eyes
to heaven's light, you realize:
your life is a sheer gift.

From Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky. Copyright © 2001 by The Joseph Brodsky Estate, reprinted with permission by The Wylie Agency, LLC.




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Poet Joseph Brodsky 1940–1996

POET’S REGION Russia

Subjects Living, Death, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter

Holidays New Year

Biography

Iosif Alexandrovich Brodsky was reviled and persecuted in his native Soviet Union, but the Western literary establishment lauded him as one of that country's finest poets. From the time he began publishing his verse—both under his own name, and under the name Joseph Brodsky—which was characterized by ironic wit and a spirit of fiery independence, Brodsky aroused the ire of Soviet authorities; he was also persecuted because he . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION Russia

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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