Tuesday, July 11, 2006


In Translation Review (Number seventy 2005) I encountered this poet/translator Cid Corman, who passed away in 2004. His minimalist poems captured my attention right away. The poem I'm quoting here seems to illustrate Buber's philosophical principle of I and thou to perfection. What is intuitively grasped suddenly emerges as a real possibility.

By myself I am just someone, like any other someone. What makes me special is you. When I'm with you (the other), I come into being, I become myself. I guess that's what's meant when we say some bring out the best in people, some bring out the worst. It's in the interaction between I and thou that our essence, good or bad, bubbles up from the raw, amorphous matter we are made of.

You may not get it

but I'm all there is

offered here. And what

that amounts to
won't be clear until you

offer yourself too.

(Cid Corman)

(More poems here:

http://www.theeastvillage.com/t2/corman/a.htm... )

Here's the etymology of "offer".

O.E. ofrian, from L. offerre "to present, bestow, bring before" (in L.L. "to present in worship"), from ob "to" + ferre "to bring, to carry" (see infer). Non-religious sense reinforced by O.Fr. offrir "to offer," from L. offerre. The noun is first recorded 1433, from O.Fr. offre (12c.), verbal noun from offrir. The native noun formation is offering (O.E. offrung), verbal noun from offrian.

"I" occupy a certain physical space with a shape to it, that would be given a special meaning at the moment of mutual recognition. It's like, maybe, someone writing the most beautiful poem in human history. Unless that poem was read by someone else ("thou"), what would be the value of it?


Egos are good.

Without egos, there can be no loving.

There is no "I love you", without the "I".

The "I" is essential in the "I Love you".

Imagine one lover asking the other:

-Do you love me?

And the answer is:

-Love is directed at you.

-Yes, but do you love me?

How long will that relationship last?


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