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This poem is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

Letter to Heinrich Heine Carol Rumens

DEAR POET, I'm answering this
Youthful letter, not addressed to me
And solemnly confidential though it is.
Somehow I don't think you'd take it ill.
A word-fancier too, I understand
That, however passionate the task in hand,
There clings a sense of acting publicly,
Wet ink a slow fade to posterity.
I'm yours-and yet I feel a dismal chill
As if you'd just gone out, leaving your chair
Awkwardly jutting from the paper-strewn table,
And, in the air, the small ghost of a smile
Saying you won't come back to this room.
Tell me, what are a hundred and fifty years
To a voice that mocks as eloquently as yours?
Even through the pale smog of translation
...


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