Meghan O'Rourke on

Published in Poem Of The Day

Never, never, never, never, never.
-King Lear
Even now I can't grasp "nothing" or "never."
They're unholdable, unglobable, no map to nothing.
Never? Never ever again to see you?
An error, I aver. You're never nothing,
because nothing's not a thing.
I know death is absolute, forever,
the guillotine-gutting-never to which we never say goodbye.
But even as I think "forever" it goes "ever"
and "ever" and "ever." Ever after.
I'm a thing that keeps on thinking. So I never see you
is not a thing or think my mouth can ever. Aver:
You're not "nothing." But neither are you something.
Will I ever really get never?
You're gone. Nothing, never-ever.

About this poem
"I wrote 'Ever' as a kind of self-punishing exercise after thinking about the perfection and tragedy of Lear's line 'Never, never, never, never, never'-uttered as he realizes his daughter Cordelia is dead. It's a line that pierces the soul (and is in perfect trochaic pentameter). So I thought about how I might, in a sonnet, play on that line as Shakespeare riffed on a theme in his sonnets. The speaker of this sonnet is in denial about loss-her shock prevents her from being able to speak it and leads her to obsess over the concept. And who can really speak loss?"
-Meghan O'Rourke

About Meghan O'Rourke
Meghan O'Rourke is the author of "Once" (W.W. Norton, 2011). She is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and teaches at Princeton University and New York University.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience.

(c) 2015 Meghan O'Rourke. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate





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