Mark Van Doren

The deepest dream is of mad governors,
Down, down we feel it, till the very crust
Of the world cracks, and where there was no dust,
Atoms of ruin rise.
The Deepest Dream – Mark Van Doren (1894-1972)

He appears, inexplicably,
on a panel talking about the death of JFK,
the day after, late in life, surely years after
he wrote The Deepest Dream.

He doesn’t say much. Unlike his son,
not given the answers, he doesn’t
wind on like the others, doesn’t speak at all
until late in the program, and then
speaks mainly of the past.
But then later, coming to this:

Whoever did this…
defeated his own end more completely
than one can say.

But then, he is still speaking
of the past, of Brutus and Cassius,
of Lincoln. Perhaps thinking
of the early church.

The camera pans the eminent men:
the historian
the jurist
the professor
the worldly philosopher
and seems as dazed as they seem
in the wake of the few lucid words
that anyone can say.

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2 thoughts on “Mark Van Doren

  1. i think i would hang on those few words as well…do all the theories matter in light of it…i find often the most wise know when to listen and say little but powerful things….

  2. “Whoever did this… / defeated his own end more completely / than one can say.” very interesting indeed. I can see how they would produce a dazed look on those listening, no matter of status.

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