Eating Poetry (XXXIII) – Left Behind

by A. Jay Adler on April 1, 2012
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An Elegy: December, 1970
Edgar Bowers

Almost four years, and, though I merely guess
What happened, I can feel the minutes’ rush
Settle like snow upon the breathless bed—
And we who loved you, elsewhere, ignorant.
From my deck, in the sun, I watch boys ride
Complexities of wind and wet and wave:
Pale shadows, poised a moment on the light’s
Archaic and divine indifference


God whose law it is
that those who learn must suffer.
And even in our sleep,
pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despite
against our will,
comes wisdom to us,
by the awful grace of God.

-Aeschylus, from Agamemnon

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Solis April 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Dear Jay,

Fine post. I appreciate the way the poem goes back and forth, insights, paradoxes revealed, experienced, like the “complexities” in the waves. Each of us riding the waves…and the “awful grace of God.” I’m always keen to read your posts, because of your eye, and because of your heart.



A. Jay Adler April 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Diane, thanks for your kind words. I think you focused on one of, for me, the two key words in the Bowers poem, “complexities” along with the (divine) “indifference.” I find what they evoke present in different language in the lines from Aeschylus, which is one reason I matched them. Good to hear from you.


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