Brenda Shaughnessy

"The Poets Are Dying" by Brenda Shaughnessy for The New Yorker

This poem originally appeared in The New Yorker


It seems impossible
they seemed immortal.

Where are they going
if not to their next poems?

Poems that, like lives, make do
and make that doing do more—

holding a jolt like a newborn,
a volta turning toward a god-load

of grief dumped from some heaven
where words rain down

and the poet is soaked. Cold
to the bone, we’ve become. Thick-

headed, death-bedded, heartsick.
Poets. Flowers picked, candles wicked,

forgiving everyone they tricked.


Listen to the audio version read by Brenda in The New Yorker