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. Linden Lane
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Wittgenstein in Norway

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by Andrew Sofer

Skjolden, 1913

I fled my past to wrestle face to face
the demon logic conjured in my brain.
The world was everything packed in my case.
I scorned the Cambridge of the merely sane.

The demon logic conjured in my brain.
I wrote 'A' is the same letter as 'A.'
Scorning the Cambridge of the merely sane,
what only could be shown I strove to say.

I wrote 'A' is the same letter as 'A.'
The logic of my trip escaped my friends.
What only could be shown I strove to say,
dirtying a flower with muddy hands.

The logic of my trip: escape my friends
to solve the problems of philosophy—
dirtying a flower with muddy hands,
reducing reason to tautology.

To solve the problems of philosophy,
I kicked away the ladder of the mind,
reducing reason to tautology.
The locals wondered what I came to find.

I kicked away the ladder of the mind.
My empty notebooks filled a single shelf.
The locals wondered. What I came to find:
the mirror, language, turned upon itself.

My empty notebooks filled (a single shelf).
The world is everything that is the case.
The mirror language turned upon itself
I fled my past to wrestle face to face.

INSTRUCTIONS

The poem above, by Andrew Sofer, is a pantoum, a highly structured form born in Malaysia. According to Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, in The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000), a pantoum consists of four-line stanzas—the total number of stanzas being up to the poet. The rhyme scheme of each stanza is abab, and the first and last lines of the poem must be identical. From here, the rules get complex: "The second and fourth lines of the first quatrain become the first and third lines of the next, and so on with succeeding quatrains," note Strand and Boland. "In the final quatrain the unrepeated first and third lines are used in reverse as second and fourth lines."

Observe Strand and Boland, "Of all verse forms the pantoum is the slowest: The reader takes four steps forward, then two back. It is the perfect form for the evocation of a past time."

 

Andrew Sofer is an assistant professor of English at Boston College and the author of The Stage Life of Props (University of Michigan Press, 2003).

 

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