Time and What It Does
Has it been a decade since he had a fatal heart attack at his New York home? Yes, it has.
• • Former NYU professor and Greenwich Village resident, Joseph Brodsky [24 May 24 1940 – 28 January 1996] won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987) and was chosen Poet Laureate of the USA (1991-1992). For years the poet and essayist lived on Morton Street.
Brodsky Quote: “There is only one subject that matters to me: TIME and what it does to a man.”
• • Polish-born poet Adam Lizakowski mentions Jefferson Market Court in this tribute to the Nobelist.
•Joseph Brodsky returns to Russia•
In the span of one day
I sold two books of Brodski's poems
which had been on my store's shelf for many months,
yet I never realized
that the poet's death had helped me sell the books.
The Russian poet and immigrant, who for many years had lived
in that hub of freedom, Greenwich Village,
among artists and homosexuals, has passed away - -
the old rabbit who once fled the ubiquitous
hunting dogs of the worker's union
from the statue of Peter I in Leningrad
to the Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York.
As a boy of seven, he already knew many of life's truths - -
that deceit is more useful than algebra,
that even three brilliant communists really aren't so smart,
that poetic talent is a gift from God.
Since the old days, his life at stake, he'd played chess against Death
yet Death caught him off-guard,
sent an icy telegram to Russia
where, in short, the after-life is beautiful;
the homeland is the homeland (even when not beloved)
and now, with obituaries written in Roman type,
America bids him farewell
while Russia greets the poet in Cyrillic:
Joseph Brodski returns to Russia, his true home...
words uttered by the lips of young poets -
in the midst of political upheaval
the black notices appearing in the most popular newspapers;
the immigrant's journey has come full circle,
and in Saint Petersburg someone with a beautiful name
goes out for a walk, wanting to reminisce a little
to consider the future:
now it's certain, Joseph will stay here forever,
never again able to leave.
• • BY: Adam Lizakowski [born in Poland in 1956] • •
• • Photo: • Joseph Brodsky in Greenwich Village •
New York Public Library