November 13, 2011

Song of the Beggar

Beggar Man and Beggar Woman
by Rembrandt van Rijn

You'll find me in all weathers beyond the gate,
unsheltered from rain and sun.
Every so often I cradle my right ear
in my right hand.
Then my own voice sounds to me
as no one ever hears it.

Then I can't tell for certain
who is screaming:
me or someone else.
Poets cry out for more important matters.

At times I even close my eyes
so my face can disappear.
The way it lies with its full weight in my hands,
it is almost like rest.
Then no one can think I lack a place
to lay my head.

New Poems


  1. The emotional range in this poem, which ends, it seems, in a turn—the compassion of the beggar for those who see him—is quite something, within such a few lines. I feel grateful that this poet cries out for this "important matter": giving voice to the voiceless.

  2. Is there a more heart breaking image than the beggar with his face full weight in his hands so that at least he can have a place to lay his head?

  3. What despair! To close one's eyes so that one's face might disappear. Painful to read; even more painful to remember the faceless millions whose songs are never heard, perhaps never sung.


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!