Winged and Acid Dark

By Robert Hass b. 1941 Robert Hass
A sentence with “dappled shadow” in it.
Something not sayable
spurting from the morning silence,
secret as a thrush.

The other man, the officer, who brought onions
and wine and sacks of flour,
the major with the swollen knee,
wanted intelligent conversation afterward.
Having no choice, she provided that, too.

Potsdamerplatz, May 1945.

When the first one was through he pried her mouth open.
Bashō told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
I think he recommended describing the slightly frenzied
swarming of insects near a waterfall.

Pried her mouth open and spit in it.
We pass these things on,
probably, because we are what we can imagine.

Something not sayable in the morning silence.
The mind hungering after likenesses. “Tender sky,” etc.,
curves the swallows trace in air.

Robert Hass, "Winged and Acid Dark" from Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005. Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hass.  Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco Press, 2007)

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Poet Robert Hass b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Free Verse, Metaphor, Simile

 Robert  Hass

Biography

Robert Hass is one of contemporary American poetry’s most celebrated and widely-read voices. In addition to his success as a poet, Hass is also recognized as a leading critic and translator, notably of the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Japanese haiku masters Bashō, Buson, and Issa. Critics celebrate Hass’s own poetry for its clarity of expression, its conciseness, and its imagery, often drawn from everyday life. “Hass has . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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