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Making Nothing Happen

March 28, 1993|JOHN HOLLANDER

Poetry makes nothing happen.

--W. H. Auden

Before there could be nothing, there were too,

Too many somethings, all abuzz: tohu

Scrapping with bohu ; pain and desire, delight

And fear; a whorl of knowings; dim and bright

Suspended in a universal blanc-

Mange. She could not allow this to go on.

She said, Let there be night and there was night,

Intensest night, within which Nothing might

Be seen emerging from its ruined tomb;

Making itself a kind of spaceless room;

Setting its engines of denial stirring;

And then, quite irreversibly, occurring.

Nothing had, finally, happened. In future, then,

Something would never be the same again. From " Tesserae and Other Poems " (Knopf : $20.; 89 pp.) . 1993 by John Hollander. Tohu u bohu, usually translated "without form and void," appears in Genesis . I.I. Hollander teaches English at Yale. A companion volume, "Selected Poetry," is being published simultaneously. Reprinted by permission.

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