For darkness restores what light cannot repair.
Joseph Brodsky, born on this day in 1940, was arrested at age twenty-three and sentenced to five years on a prison farm for “having a worldview damaging to the state, decadence and modernism, failure to finish school, and social parasitism … except for the writing of awful poems.
Judge: And what is your profession in general?
Judge: Who recognized you as a poet? Who listed you in the ranks of poets?
Accused: No one. Who listed me in the ranks of humanity?
—from a transcript of the trial of Joseph Brodsky, taken down in shorthand by a Soviet journalist and sent to the Western press.
“Since the stern art of poetry calls for words, I, morose,
deaf, and balding ambassador of a more or less
insignificant nation that’s stuck in this super
power, wishing to spare my old brain,
put on clothes – all by myself – and head for the main
street: for the evening paper.”
From “The End of a Beautiful Era,” (Leningrad 1969)