Five Points, Vol. 12 No. 1Spring 2008
From Philip Levine, “Shakespeare was never a king or a Roman, yet he can write about them.”
Apparition (Favorite Poem)
The old words are dying,
everyone forgets them,
pages falling into sleep and dust,
dust and sleep, burning so slowly
you wouldn’t even know there’s a fire.
Or that’s what I think half the time.
Then, at the bookstore, a young man reciting,
slight for fourteen, blonde, without irony
but not self-important either;
his loping East Texas vowels threaten
to escape the fence of pentameter,
his voice seems to have just arrived here,
but the old cadence inhabits anyway.
He makes the poem his own
even as he becomes a vessel
for its reluctance to disappear.
All right, maybe they perish,
but the boy has the look of someone
repeating a crucial instruction
that must be delivered, word for word,
as he learned it:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.