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William Bronk: Online Poems

Metonymy as an Approach to a Real World

Whether what we sense of this world
is the what of this world only, or the what 
of which of several possible worlds
--which what?--something of what we sense 
may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense.
For the rest, a truce is possible, the tolerance
of travelers, eating foreign foods, trying words
that twist the tongue, to feel that time and place,
not thinking that this is the real world.

Conceded, that all the clocks tell local time; 
conceded, that "here" is anywhere we bound
and fill a space; conceded, we make a world:
is something caught there, contained there,
something real, something which we can sense?
Once in a city blocked and filled, I saw
the light lie in the deep chasm of a street,
palpable and blue, as though it had drifted in 
from say, the sea, a purity of space.

© William Bronk. from The World, the Worldless (1964). Online Source

The Smile on the Face of a Kouros

This boy, of course, was dead, whatever that
might mean. And nobly dead. I think we should feel 
he was nobly dead. He fell in battle, perhaps, 
and this carved stone remembers him 
not as he may have looked, but as if to define
the naked virtue the stone describes as his. 
One foot is forward, the eyes look out, the arms
drop downward past the narrow waist to hands 
hanging in burdenless fullness by the heavy flanks. 
The boy was dead, and the stone smiles in his death 
lightening the lips with the pleasure of something achieved:
an end. To come to an end. To come to death 
as an end. And coming, bring there intact, the full 
weight of his strength and virtue, the prize with which 
his empty hands are full. None of it lost, 
safe home, and smile at the end achieved. 
Now death, of which nothing as yet - or ever - is known,
leaves us alone to think as we want of it, 
and accepts our choice, shaping the life to the death.
Do we want an end? It gives us; and takes what we give 
and keeps it; and has, this way, in life itself, 
a kind of treasure house of comely form 
achieved and left with death to stay and be 
forever beautiful and whole, as if 
to want too much the perfect, unbroken form 
were the same as wanting death, as choosing death
for an end. There are other ways; we know the way 
to make the other choice for death: unformed 
or broken, less than whole, puzzled, we live 
in a formless world. Endless, we hope for no end.
I tell you death, expect no smile of pride
from me. I bring you nothing in my empty hands.

© William Bronk. from Life Supports: New and Collected Poems. Orig. pub. in The Empty Hands, 1969. Online Source 

What We Are

What we are? We say we want to become
what we are or what we have an intent to be.
We read the possibilities, or try.
We get to some. We think we know how to read.
We recognize a word, here and there,
a syllable: male, it says perhaps,
or female, talent -- look what you could do --
or love, it says, love is what we mean.
Being at any cost: in the end, the cost
is terrible but so is the lure to us.
We see it move and shine and swallow it.
We say we are and this is what we are
as to say we should be and this is what to be 
and this is how. But, oh, it isnít so.

© William Bronk. Online Source

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