Jan Zwicky


for performance with Bach’s E Major
Partita for Solo Violin, BWV1006 


There is, said Pythagoras, a sound

the planet makes: a kind of music

just outside our hearing, the proportion

and the resonance of things – not

the clang of theory or the wuthering

of human speech, not even

the bright song of sex or hunger, but

the unrung ringing that

supports them all.


The wife, no warning, dead

when you come home. Ducats

in the fishheads that you salvage

from the rubbish heap. Is the cosmos

laughing at us? No. It’s saying

improvise.  Everywhere you look

there’s beauty, and it’s rimed

with death. If you find injustice

you’ll find humans, and this means

that if you listen, you’ll find love.

The substance of the world is light,

is water: here, clear

even when it’s dying; even when the dying

seems unbearable, it runs.

– from Forge (2011), by Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky, Ph.D., is a Canadian poet, essayist, philosopher and violinist. Resisting Western philosophy’s exclusion of imagination from civic life, Zwicky’s poetry is noteworthy for the tension it achieves between the abstract and the personal, the general and the particular. Meditating repeatedly on themes of love and grief, this poetry is at once passionately committed to the lucidity of its utterances and the fidelity of its images.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. jane tims says:

    Hi. I took a week long workshop in poetry under Jan in the 1990’s and never forgot her kind advice and complex poetry (Maritime Writer’s Workshop). Lovely to see this tribute! Jane

    1. Sigrun says:

      How wonderful! I find her writing really challenging and very beautiful.

  2. Oh! What a wonderful poem!

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