It’s Saturday, no
conference calls. Left to my
self, such as it is.

Who is that rather
indeterminite fellow
balancing Dante

on his knee, coffee
cup raised to his lips? He is
here again, same book,

this time more pages
on this side rather than that.
Is he carved in stone?

He leans into it,
as if into the book itself;
he rises and leaves.

I know him. Given
to break off thinking to di-
alogue with the dead.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

2 thoughts on “Given”

  1. The poet’s self-understanding and reflective distance on his own reading and writing may call to mind William Desmond’s ideas on the field in which porosity happens and the way beings dwell between and move through no-thingness. So when we read of the poet stopping thinking to commune with the dead we may thinmk of Dante and the trip to the underworld and to purgatory and pardise, htat voyage beyond thing-ness and thought. And the poem itself perhaps starts to take us towards that dwelling with the departed not so much as a macabre or occult happening as a space between light and dark, a passage of that exquisite twilit pre-dawn air after, before, beyond, and below hot sun.


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