Song of the Shattering Vessels

By Peter Cole b. 1957 Peter Cole
Either the world is coming together,
or else the world is falling apart —
     here — now — along these letters,
     against the walls of every heart.

Today, tomorrow, within its weather,
the end or beginning’s about to start —
     the world impossibly coming together
     or very possibly falling apart.

Now the lovers’ mouths are open —
maybe the miracle’s about to start:
      the world within us coming together,
      because all around us it’s falling apart.

Even as they speak, he wonders,
even as the fear departs:
     Is that the world coming together?
     Can they keep it from falling apart?

The image, gradually, is growing sharper;
now the sound is like a dart:
     It seemed their world was coming together,
     but in fact it was falling apart.

That’s the nightmare, that’s the terror,
that’s the Isaac of this art —
     which sees that the world might come together
      if only we’re willing to take it apart.

The dream, the lure, is the prayer’s answer,
which can’t be plotted on any chart —
    as we know the world that’s coming together
    without our knowing is falling apart.

Source: Poetry (May 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2013
 Peter  Cole

Biography

Poet and translator Peter Cole was born in Paterson, New Jersey. His collections of poetry include Hymns & Qualms (1998), Rift (1989), What Is Doubled: Poems 1981-1998 (2005), and Things on Which I’ve Stumbled (2008). With Adina Hoffman, he wrote the nonfiction collection Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza (2011). Described by Harold Bloom as a “major poet-translator,” Cole has translated important . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Refrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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