In my great grandmother’s time,Charles Simic
All one needed was a broom
To get to see places
And give the geese a chase in the sky.
The stars know everything,
So we try to read their minds.
As distant as they are,
We choose to whisper in their presence.
Take a clock that has lost its hands
For a ride.
Get me a room at Hotel Eternity
Where Time likes to stop now and then.
Come, lovers of dark corners,
The sky says,
And sit in one of my dark corners.
There are tasty little zeroes
In the peanut dish tonight.
‘The stars know everything’
Autumn Sky is a short poem with a vast amount of references to time and space, nostalgia, and the power of the natural world. Charles Simic’s poem, like much as his work, intertwines memories of a magical past with a more grounded present. There is a strong yearning to return. Mythical memories, like that of a child’s imagination, accumulate in the invite from the Sky itself.
The sky directly addresses the ‘lovers of dark corners’, but there’s a potent understanding that humans are too far away – physically, metaphysically, and metaphorically – to ever understand the stars. Simic implies a sense of deity from above as the speaker ‘whisper in their presence’. He then pulls to poem back to a direct contrast with the reality of a simple peanut dish.
This poem is no general message. Simic’s speaker addressing ‘Cynthia’. The words are imperative, with wild and grandiose ideas dragged down to Earth for this person to hear and take heed. There is a desire to stop time and experience that stillness, which we all wish for sometimes.
Significance of memory
The winner of numerous awards and achievements from the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry to being appointed US Poet Laureate in 2007-2008, Charles Simic is a well-respected and influential contemporary writer and translator. Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia – now Serbia – in 1938, and emigrated to the US at age 16. His experience of childhood during WWII has huge resonance in all his writing.
Simic’s poetry discusses the reality of poverty in the modern age, war, and the significance of memory. Simic is best known for creating imagery of contrast between truth and fallacy, realism and magic. His works draw influence from the Imagist movement as well as dark comedy, balanced with the insight of the socio-political world.
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What do you think of Autumn Sky? Do you have a favourite poem about this time of year? Let us know in the comments below!