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)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
OUP PNR 246 Banner
PNR CAPILDEO PROMO MARCH 2019
Next Issue Alex Wong embarks on Ausonius's Moselle Christine Blackwell recalls Jonas Mekas Lives of Graves, Trilling and Curnow visited New poems by Lisa Kelly and Jodie Hollander Andy Croft on the 'poetry industry'

This poem is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

The Great Pessimists Alfred Corn
Vanity of vanities... There is no remembrance of former things; Nor remembrance of things that shall be with those that shall come after.
                                                                                                                           Ecclesiastes

And yet Diogenes still roams the world, lantern in hand,
An exodus in search of honesty, his greeting to Alexander:
'Stand aside, you're blocking my sunlight.'

And the prophet who lashed out, 'The heart is
Deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
Who can know it?' Lear could, we hear it in his howls,
Or Gloucester's 'as flies to wanton boys are we
To th' gods, They kill us for their sport.' Or Macbeth,
His candle snuffed, a walking shadow, a ham actor
Full of sound and fury, significance's zero sum.

Apostle of mordancy, ironic La Rochefoucauld,
Who detected self-regard in every generous act,
Reasoning that reason always proved the dupe
Of emotion. And that we could no more control
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image