Lemnos

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).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

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

March 2008
 Karl  Kirchwey

Biography

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

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

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.