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.