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« "Dead of Night": Homage to the Uncanny | Main | Dogs and Poetry [by Richard Garcia] »

March 03, 2024


Love this meditative poem,especially the last two lines.

Something is always underway. We wait for it, “hands on the table, eyes on the wall,” remembering the dog in the cow. It’s the kind of poem to remember all day. Thanks.

"Meanwhile, it’s safe to say the cow is long since gone. Not on account of what I saw, but because I saw it long ago."
This, I love, because it speaks of how time is an illusion and coluld not have been said better.

I will not forget this profound meditation and this cow, thanks to the brilliant poet, Timothy Donnelly.

Great poem! The tone is deliciously pregnant with something…

Wonderful wonderful poem that certainly sets off "life's electric charge"! I like the divergence from the cow, in the poem's middle, and then a return back to it, then on to its glorious exit. Bravo Timothy! Thank you Terence from bringing it here!

Don: thanks for the comment, mon ami.

another brilliantly resonant poem and post, thank you terence and timothy

Michael: thanks for the comment. Glad you liked it.

In the realm of "begin in delight/end in wisdom," Timothy's poem is a sure winner. Mad grá for this one, Terence - thanks!

This gets at the truth that the best miracles are not advertised beforehand.

A great poem…mediitative and has a nice rhythm to it..I love the Jack Yeats painting…the cow a good companion along the road to nowhere…Thanks Terence and Timothy…

WOW! I ADORE this poem!!!! Just perfect.

Thanks, David. Glad you liked it.

Thanks, Leslie. (I love that painting too.)

I have seen cows do this and it is something to watch. I've seen horses using their muzzle eat the grass around a weed they had no way of seeing. Love the way T.D. windows his own life with this. Real poetry! And J.B. Yeats painting is to die for! Two home runs!

I love the poem, especially the last line. The artwork is terrific.

"To ask too much of life would spoil it."


After I read Timothy Donnelly’s poem, a statement by E. L. Doctorow swam back to my mind: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Any good poem elicits the same sort of trust: an inchoate knowledge that you’re in sure, not necessarily reassuring, hands. The job of a poet is principally to stir, not soothe, though it can do both. I felt all of that while reading the poem. I began to delight in being upended. At no moment did I know how the poem would end. And I was glad to be kept not so much in the dark as in the penumbra (think Doctorow’s limited headlights beam). The seemingly quotidian observations of the initial three unrhyming couplets, ending with “whether it was possible,” lead to philosophical speculation and conclusion at the onset of the next couplet: “Well, it’s possible.” The real yields to the cerebral as the first-person narrator tries to articulate the larger impact of what he/she observed. We, as readers, take on the same task. The ostensible volta of the poem begins perhaps in the fourth couplet or certainly by the fifth couplet: “Sometimes I feel like something might be underway / but I just wait it out: hands on the table, eyes on the wall.” Also, any line of poetry beginning with “Meanwhile” (line 11) signals a shift both in time and in narrative perspective. The concrete or tangible emerge: “red beans on yellow rice, a slightly / brown avocado.” The last nine words of the poem seal its deceptive economy and overall brilliance: “To ask too much of life would spoil it.” The enduring irony of Donnelly’s poem is how deftly and plentifully it responds to our asking so much of it.

Wonderful poem, wonderful comments, wonderful contextualizing title (which I was
surprised no one mentioned. It sets the table for all the sensibility that follows.

Love the Yeats painting!

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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