"In-Flight Couplets Composed During a Bomb Alert"
"In-Flight Couplets Composed During a Bomb Alert"
A weekly poem, read by the author.
April 24 2007 7:20 AM

"In-Flight Couplets Composed During a Bomb Alert"

London-St. Petersburg, Aug. 14, 2006

Click here   to listen to Alfred Corn read this poem.

Mind, though they've banned material counterparts,Your conscious page and pen got past the guards.

Think back to Mandelshtam at the Black Sea,
Composing silently, invisibly …

"It must be memorable." Yes, or else
Our uninscriptions will unwrite themselves.

Then, too, if bombs incinerate this brain,
It won't recall so much as my own name.

Exile, silence, equal oblivion?
Ask Mandelshtam. His Tristia may have been

The only book an author ever wrote
Each word of which the beloved got by heart.

Words fade to black if not made memories of.
Love, if it means to live, is spoken love.

Alfred Corn's 10th book of poems, Tables, will be published this January. He spent the earlier part of this year as a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, working on a new version of Rilke's Duino Elegies.

  Slate Plus
Hang Up And Listen
Feb. 9 2016 1:49 PM The 11th Worst Super Bowl in History How do you measure Super Bowl mediocrity? Slate correspondent Justin Peters stacks them up.