An Excerpt from “La Durée”

John Koethe

Proust read Bergson, then he wrote his poem.
I thought if I read Bergson too I’d figure out a way
To say what I’ve been gesturing at all my life
Without success: la durée, duration, time,
My own time, by which I mean your own time too.
I don’t know why: the days go by without event,
Resembling one another in the main and in the details,
Each remaining utterly individual in its moment
As it disappears. The gray day dawns and turns to snow
Accumulating on the cars and on the parking lot
Below my window, other cars roll by along the street
I can see from my desk, while Henri Bergson floats adrift
On confusions about quantity and quality, and I—
I go on reading. Chapter Two: riffings about numbers
By a man who gave up mathematics for philosophy
Too soon, and missed what they’d discovered—
Numbers aren’t constructed out of space or human time,
But from a pure idea of order at some Key West of the mind
Beyond duration and experience, where they last forever.

. . .

Read the rest of this poem by downloading the free Amazon digest version of The Kenyon Review here.

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