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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Daily Lift #858

Maxim Gorky Portrait, 1929 Oil On Canvas, Isaak Brodsky, USSR

Maxim Gorky

Wheat grows tall in the earth, and a man dies,

But the long grain is gathered and the bread

Absorbed into the toughness of our bone,

Into our living flesh the kernels creeping.

A thousand years, and they will say of our sons,

Here is the wheat that grew in Gorky's time.

A man is other, he is burned or buried,

The body lost forever to the world.

And yet if he has plowed the ancient mind

With a bright edge of words, with a tongue talking,

The polished loam turned over, the fat furrow

Driven deep out of that fertile earth,

His angry ghost will haunt the broken field

And stride the world's hills with the tread of speaking.

A thousand years, and they will say of our books,

Here is the voice of Gorky, this is the man.

Paul Engle, American poet writing of Gorky's death.

Poem first published in The New Masses, December 29, 1936


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