1. Home
  2. Poetry Magazine
  3. Poems
  4. Lemnos by Karl Kirchwey
Lemnos

Related Poem Content Details

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

  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Lemnos

Related Poem Content Details

  • 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 poet’s own tenderheartedness,” observed poet Mary Jo Salter in a review of The Engrafted Word for the New York Times.
    Kirchwey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Mount Lebanon (2011), The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose (2007); The Engrafted Word (1998), a New York Times Notable Book; and A Wandering Island (1990), recipient of the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, as well as Poems Under Saturn (2011), a translation...

  • Poem Categorization

    If you disagree with this poem's categorization make a suggestion.
  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Other Information