and its fulfillment
on someone’s grave.
Because the insult was grave,
I must repay hatred with hatred,
abandon all pleasure: the dancing,
the flirting, the wallowing wantings
of every day. How drab their fulfillment
when compared with the pleasure to hurt.
I plan to avenge the hurt
if it takes all my life to the grave.
Revenge is the deepest fulfillment.
I shall give myself to my hatred.
No means too mean shall be wanting
when the consummation is dancing.
I dream day and night of that dancing.
His death will not save him from hurt.
There’s more than a grave he’ll be wanting
when I get to dance on his grave,
whirling in an orgy of hatred,
stamping on his slab in fulfillment.
But if I am to enjoy that fulfillment
my thoughts must be spinning and dancing
endlessly. What of my hatred’s
last rites: What shoes shall I wear to hurt
in? What tune shall I dance to? Grave
decisions. And how shall I get there? Wanting
answers to all these. What a desolation of wanting
that murders all other fulfillment.
I might as well be in my grave.
For under that frenzy of dancing
whose body’s writhing? Whose heart’s mortally hurt?
I am the corpse of my hatred.
Dare I dig a grave for that hatred,
abandon abandonment there, the terrible wanting to hurt?
That thought itself is fulfillment. My heart, my heart begins dancing.
Copyright © Jean Shapiro Cantu. Reproduced here by kind permission.
Robert Friend (1913 – 1998 ) was an American poet and translator. I am grateful to Jean Cantu, his niece and copyright holder, for agreeing to his poem being published here at the same time as David Punter’s poem “Ballad of Refuge.” This last was featured on the website of the UK Poetry Society last year (see next post). David Punter is an English poet and teacher.
It seemed to me that the two poems address some urgent and connected issues of the present times and do so with equal authority and in a similar way. In each case, the poet reaches into a state of human being which is not necessarily his own, yet is in the inheritance of us all, in order to understand better, throw light upon, the world as it is happening. There is something courageously redemptive about both poems. Don’t blink. Only connect…
Is it possible for hatred to lie quietly in a grave ? Dare we ?
Here is a link to a version of the poem formatted as a little poster : Hatred by Robert Friend
You can download the poster and print it out.