Friday, November 30, 2012

Poetry Friday: A Brief for the Defense

Poet Jack Gilbert recently passed away. This interview in The Paris Review will give you a great sense of who he was.

Gilbert often wrote about love and loss, with searing accuracy, tempered with hope. A couple of weeks ago, after Gilbert died, Atticus sent me this poem.

Here's the last part of the amazing "A Brief for the Defense":

                                              ... We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

(Read the whole poem here, at The Poetry Center at Smith College.)


The round up this week is hosted by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm.


  1. Oh my. What a powerful poem. I'm saving this to share in the future. Thank you for the introduction.

  2. "We must risk delight"

    An exquisite poem, much to ponder. You've made me want to read more of Gilbert's work. Thanks, Karen! :)

  3. Wow. That is a for my notebook, one I need. Thank you so much, Karen. Take good care. Happy Poetry Saturday! a.

  4. I love Jack Gilbert. What a wonderful poet.

  5. I love this line: "We must admit that there will be music despite everything."

  6. Yeah, this poem is full of favorite lines for me.