Friday, August 14, 2009

Poem of the Week 7/15/2009: Watch Repair

Watch Repair

A small wheel
Shivering like
A pinned butterfly.

Hands thrown up
In all directions:
The crossroads
One arrives at
In a nightmare.

Higher than that
Number 12 presides
Like a beekeeper
Over the swarming honeycomb
Of the open watch.

Other wheels
That could fit
Inside a raindrop.

That must be splinters
Of arctic starlight.

Tiny golden mills
Grinding invisible
Coffee beans.

When the coffee’s boiling
So it doesn’t burn us,
We raise it
To the lips
Of the nearest

Charles Simic 1974

This poem is a gorgeous, observant, sincere meditation on a small watch by the former poet laureate Charles Simic. We must wonder whether the watch is a cosmos or a strange pet, for it has both the echo of the universe and a personal, almost cute, character to it. Simic creates a cosmos by introducing a world of actors like the beekeeper-- number 12-- which makes the watch itself into a city or a town. Then, he hints at the universe at large with the somehow successful line, "splinters of starlight."

Then, Simic adds character to the watch using hints of activity, like the "hands thrown up in all directions." This clever line both puns on the hands of the watch and introduces the watchmaker's dynamic interaction with the watch itself. I think the coffee beans, too, add a cuteness that somehow makes the watch more intimate, heavily loud yet nearly infinitesimal in its whirring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just discovered this blog! Found it when googling up some ideas on Edwin Muir's Adam's Dream - did you ever get around to your analysis of that? It's a wonderful poem.

Really enjoyed this Simic too. Your feelings about it being philosophic are echoed in the almost Haiku-esque form. I also love how though it sounds quite poetic and beautiful,there is also something quite sinister about the wheel and "pinned" butterfly.

Great choice!