Rejection Slip David Lehman Poetry

local_library Rejection Slip

by David Lehman

Published in Issue No. 15 ~ August, 1998

“Oh, how glad I am that she
Whom I wanted so badly to want me
Has rejected me! How pleased I am, too,
That my Fulbright to India fell through!

The job with the big salary and the perks
Went to a toad of my acquaintance, a loathsome jerk
Instead of me! I deserved it! Yet rather than resent
My fate, I praise it: heaven sent

It is! For it has given me pain, prophetic pain,
Creative pain that giveth and that taketh away again!
Pain the premonition of death, mother of beauty,
Refinement of all pleasure, relief from duty!

Pain you swallow and nurture until it grows
Hard like a diamond or blooms like a rose!
Pain that redoubles desire! Pain that sharpens the sense!
Of thee I sing, to thee affirm my allegiance!”

The audience watched in grim anticipation
Which turned into evil fascination
And then a standing ovation, which mesmerized the nation,
As he flew like a moth into the flames of his elation.

Taken from Operation Memory, Princeton University Press, 1990.

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David Lehman's books of poetry include The Daily Mirror (2000), The Evening Sun (2002), and When a Woman Loves a Man (forthcoming in 2005), all from Scribner.