By Karl Kirchwey b. 1956 Karl Kirchwey Read the Q & A

the deep male growl of the sea-lashed headland
—Sophocles, Philoctetes

August long ago, the summer Lemnian
(not like the deeds of those who killed their men),
the self a glowing bead, like Hephaestus falling
daylong out of heaven in the old story,
the island's interior a forge, a glory hole,
the odor of wild thyme borne offshore steadily,
the Aegean Sea purple, wine-dark, without epithet;
and as I walked on the beach, my mother not long dead,
the perfect crystal of my self-regard
so lately flawed, and landscape made to echo
my own low cry in the island's empty places,
I found a pure white bone that wind and salt
had scoured of every grief and all self-pity:
and so I came to the love of others.

Source: Poetry (March 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2008
 Karl  Kirchwey


Poet and translator Karl Kirchwey received a BA from Yale College and an MA from Columbia University. Rich with mythical and historical allusion, Kirchwey’s formally assured verse explores themes of loss and origin. “Art is the medium by which Kirchwey’s art most often reifies the past—an undertaking of moral gravity, since so much of what he finds is perennial cruelty and violence. Yet what time and again emerges . . . is the . . .

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Poems by Karl Kirchwey

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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