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This is JACKET 16 - March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |    

Edwin Honig — eight poems

Pacific Grove

In the meadows
in the wells

in the sky
of wet oranges
and windows

the windows
blue winds

eye lapsing
breath battling
in the hills



“Nothing you do
becomes you”  —

but I with decades
of living it up

believe you that true
should always win

while I still being here-
and-there in the game

to go on tying the score
with short hits and runs

add sure — hoping
that’ll do in a pinch

To Infinite Eternity


Death is closer
to infinite eternity
than life is

and each life closer
to each least breath
than the blankness of
infinite eternity itself


To think blankness
rouses certain terror
and in the feeling
the sudden sense

of self responding
down to the smallest
unaided particle

of its existence
as answer to
the blankness of
sure nonexistence


Then infinite eternity
may be the opposite
of felt existence

durable as any
felt time


I say hello
to myself

and to break
the terror

of nonexistence
I restore my self

to existence whatever
the consequence

Turning Eighty

It makes so little difference, at so much more
Than seventy, where one looks. One has been there before .

— Wallace Stevens

When he shrugged his body into hers,
a giant brain wave tickled him so
he had to pell-mell pullout
his essential self — only to be seized
by a spurt of whimpers that no one,
including his closest friends,
would ever guess his own.

How much longer could he stay put,
even if he’d use some tactic like
a headstand till the sky turned red,
making him lose contact with the one -
or-he -or-me -part of himself now
entering the ninth decade
of so large a piecemeal life?

Advocate of the hovering question,
how could he explain the cause
of whimpering beyond anything
but implying that since childhood
he’d let just half his body be
taken for his naked self?
Now still as then the question lies.

for Saul Bellow (from Edwin)
on his eightieth... plus

Up Sooner Than That

Will it always be longer
and later than once
it was neither — beyond

your breakfast toasting
every old new morning’s
clattering plates — hardly

risen out of a pile
of shattering nightmares
just to be jammed

into your get up and go
smack into the traum
of being oneself again ?


Where are you going and when —
way around and coming out
who knows where?

Are you still turning
for going away
just not to be way out

and around here no more?

On Moving On

Take your time.

All will pass.

You’ll still be there

at home — alas !


If we have
  what they know
    that we are
If they know
  what we have
    is all we are
We can give what
  we are without
    knowing we do
Give away all of it
  give it all
    over to them
And as we do
  have it all back
    again and again
...and again

Book Cover - Time and AgainEdwin Honig, poet and translator, has published ten books of poetry, eight books of translation, five books of criticism and fiction, three books of plays. He has taught at Harvard and Brown, where he started the Graduate Writing Program, and has received numerous awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Mishkenot ShaAnanim, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1986 he was knighted by the President of Portugal for his work in literary translation; and in 1996 by the King of Spain. He is Emeritus Professor at Brown University.

An inclusive volume of Edwin Honig's poetry, titled Time and Again: Poems 1940-1997, is available at:

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