PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

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
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image