* contemplating one-sidedness via bill knott

This week’s poem is another gem from Bill Knott.

I’m always happy to run into poems that take on an overlooked part of life and refresh it, make it new by simple acknowledgement. In the case of Knott’s poem “Paradise,” the act of reading a book with facing translations is blown up for the meeting of worlds and circumstances that it is. The choice of words to describe what he terms “Righthandland” – gutter, damned, pulp, tongue – and what it means to dwell as a reader in one language with only glimpses of the original is spot-on. Enjoy!

* the music facing *
* notes from Lefthandland *

Paradise – Bill Knott

Always reading the recto
translation of a verso
original, my eye fades.
I notice how the paper
here on this side seems
darker than its opposite:
it is brighter over there
on the lefthand page, the
words of the real poem
give it that glow which
the prized act of creation
emits.  We who must live
here in Righthandland
are damned no matter
how hard we try to rhyme
minds with that perfect
realm across the gutter.
Even if our pulp comes
from the same stock,
we fear closing the book
will bring us face to face,
mouth to mouth with
that tongue we’ve always
lost, and can never kiss.


Happy nevering!


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