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"the poem was no different from a handshake"

"the poem was no different from a handshake"

Anne Dalke's picture

This morning, as reached the last page of Claudia Rankine's Don't Let me Be Lonely: An American Lyric, I was startled to find an observation that could be a commentary on this thread: 

"Paul Celan said that the poem was no different from a handshake." Rankine calls this "our decided ritual of both asserting (I am here) and handing over (here) a self to another....This conflation of the solidity of presence with the offering of this same presence....Here you are. Here both recognizes and demands recognition....In order for something to be handed over a hand must extend and a hand must receive" (p. 130-131).

Then Rankin appends an etymology. According to the Oxford English Dictionary: Our contemporary understanding of the word "here," as in "this place" or "the place," finds its origins in the Gothic prefix "hi," meaning this (it is placed before a noun). The prouns "he," "him," "his," and "her" also come from this source, as well as the pronouns "hither" and "hence" (p. 154).

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