What Brothers Us In Each

What, should we get rid of our ignorance, the very substance of our lives, merely in order to understand one another?

R. P. Blackmur


by R. P. Blackmur (1904 – 1965)

My friend, what brothers us in each? – I take,
most mine out of the wordling worlds we bled,
not life, but what is takeable, the dead.
I say the dead.  Things cannot sleep nor wake, 
nor grow nor lessen, upleap nor ever slack,
which have been changed between two selves.  I said
the dead – what’s not but was. This struggle-bread,
the pressed wafer of knowledge, this I break.

I eat the past, the matter we have been,
and so eat god, a fast; devour my part 
in you.  Yet you’re untouched.  You say that’s so
of me?  – my dead selves only you draw in
your often eye and seldom smile?   Live heart,
we lag – we are ahead of all we know. 

There are days this long winter, when it is difficult to be surprised.   Then comes along a March sunny day, the sparkle of snow-diamonds bedazzle contrasted by the denim blue of long shadows, that blue that only exists in spring-snow right before it melts, and I am awestruck by the simplicity of white.   I had the same feeling reading R. P. Blackmur’s poem Struggle-Bread.   How could I have missed this poem, these long years?  Where had it been hiding? Blackmur published sparingly his own poetry, but commented elegantly as a critic on others work.   I wonder what held Blackmur back from sharing more; modesty? 

My Dog My Wife and Most Myself

by R. P. Blackmur

Because the elm-tree buds are red
in sunlight, yellow-brown in shade,
I think not of a living thing —
my dog my wife and most myself —
but that I think of it as dead.

Because the harrowed land is black
and the wet wales ashine like flesh
in sunlight, dull blue steel in shade. 
this much I do expect, and hate,
I shall be fertile so when dead–
fertile and indiscriminate.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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