June 23, 2021

Brood X Cicadas Inspire Former PU English Professor to Pen Poem

To the Editor:

After reading last week’s page one story on cicadas [“Cicadas Peak Before Disappearing Until 2038,” June 16] I was inspired to compose the following poem, which begins with a reference to the Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet Odysseus Elytis:


Elytis celebrates the cicadas he hears
Singing constantly in the ears of the trees
As though they belong in his country
As naturally as the squid and octopus
That regularly define his wine-dark waters.
But how much time does our belated cicada
Have to know the wonders of our world
After seventeen years of silence underground
And no way to see what might lie ahead?
They say it has a week or two
But surely that isn’t enough time
To fathom the mystery of their coming and going
Along with the green world and its flowering
Of love and its sorrow and all the rest
We alone have time to discover.
Yet does our own devotion to silence
Allow us what we need to sing
So long and loud and tirelessly
Of the sometimes wonder given us
Before our week or two is over
And our song left for others to sing?

Edmund Keeley
Windrow Drive

The writer is a novelist, translator, poet, and professor of English emeritus at Princeton University.