PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

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