KEINE LAZAROVITCH 1870-1959
When I saw my mother’s head on the cold pillow,
Her white waterfalling hair in the cheeks’ hollows,
I thought, quietly circling my grief, of how
She loved God but cursed extravagantly his creatures.
For her final mouth was not water but a curse,
A small black hole, a black rent in the universe,
Which damned the green earth, stars and trees in its stillness
And the inescapable lousiness of growing old.
And I record she was comfortless, vituperative,
Ignorant, glad, and much else besides; I believe
She endlessly praised her black eyebrows, their thick weave,
Till plagiarizing Death leaned down and took them for his mould
And spoiled a dignity I shall not again find,
And the fury of her stubborn limited mind;
Now none will shake her amber beads and call God blind,
Or wear them on a breast so radiantly.
O fierce she was, mean and unaccommodating;
But I think now of the toss of her gold earrings,
Their proud carnal assertion, and her youngest sings
While all the rivers of her red veins move into the sea.
-- Irving Layton
One of my favourite and, I think, one of the best poems by Irving Layton -- or by any other poet. I will always remember my beloved teacher!
I have come to this site several times to reread "Keine Lazarovitch." It's a lovely poem, and the line about "the inescapable lousiness of growing old" will always resonate with me.
Yes, it's one of my favourite Layton poems. It's gratifying to think that a blog post this old is still reaching people.
Brian, it's all about the joy of a poem that offers the inescapable fulfillment of reading truth. Thank you for putting Layton's poem on our screens.
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