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About this Poem 

"The poem takes a phrase ('C’est l’olive pâmée, et la flûte câline') from an obscene parody of Albert Mérat by Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine ('Sonnet du trou du cul') and develops it into an erotic poem. Now the body of the body becomes a sacred site, a Greek island."
Edward Hirsch

A Greek Island

Edward Hirsch, 1950

Traveling over your body I found

The failing olive and the cajoling flute,

Where I knelt down, as if in prayer,

And sucked a moist pit

From the marl

Of the earth in a sacred cove.


You gave yourself to the god who comes,

The liberator of the loud shout,

While I fell into a trance,

Blood on my lips,

And stumbled into a temple on top

Of a hill at the bottom of the sky.

Copyright © 2013 by Edward Hirsch. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 25, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch

Born in Chicago on January 20, 1950, Edward Hirsch is a poet and literary advocate. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award

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In Memory of Dennis Turner, 1946-1984

A hook shot kisses the rim and
hangs there, helplessly, but doesn’t drop,

and for once our gangly starting center
boxes out his man and times his jump

perfectly, gathering the orange leather
from the air like a cherished possession 

and spinning around to throw a strike
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You're sitting at a small bay window
in an empty café by the sea.
It's nightfall, and the owner is locking up,
though you're still hunched over the radiator,
which is slowly losing warmth.

Now you're walking down to the shore
to watch the last blues fading on the waves.
You've lived in small houses, tight
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My father in the night shuffling from room to room
on an obscure mission through the hallway.

Help me, spirits, to penetrate his dream
and ease his restless passage.

Lay back the darkness for a salesman
who could charm everything but the shadows,

an immigrant who stands on the threshold
of a vast night