Tuesday, May 30, 2006

On What a Poem Can Inspire

George runs a greaseburger business, and he never reads poetry, much less secret poetry. But one day he came across what the editor called a “secret” poem in a trade magazine, of all places. George figured, “What the hell!” And he read a poem called “On Stage” that had been written originally in Greek but translated by a marvelous man who had a brow three feet above his head. The poets name was George Seferis; the translator’s name wasn’t important to George, but coincidentally his name was also George. Maybe it was the mention of Helios. Maybe it was the dramatized murder or the voice of the whore or the festering sea-foam or the bed left cold as a sheet of ice. All of the images hit George right between the eyes. But he remembered this line best, “The sea was glazed like honey / when I swam in it as a child, plunging into the swirl—/ only to resurface later, when, as a young man / trying to find my own rhythm, I studied the shoreline.” For the next three days, George couldn’t get that line out of his mind. Finally, he rid himself of the earworm when he decided to add a new item to his menu: the honey-dipped greaseburger. Indeed, his business boomed.

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