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    Poem: “In Retrospect”

    By Rhina P. Espaillat

    March 16, 2021

    I knew a man who judged himself with such
    inclemency that he pronounced each move
    he made—in retrospect—either too much
    or not enough. What did he need to prove,
    to no one but himself? What made him so
    harsh with himself when others found him better—
    no, best—at everything? We’ll never know.
    Grave childhood losses, maybe, dark regret, or
    massive ambition thwarted, though he made
    himself a name revered, and rose to be
    eminent in his field, and richly paid.
    And noted for his poems, in which he
    hinted at failure with such rare success
    that every “no” he wept for sang like “yes.”

    Read an interview with the poet.

    Contributed By RhinaEspaillat Rhina P. Espaillat

    Rhina P. Espaillat, a bilingual poet, is winner of numerous prizes including the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Richard Wilbur Award, and (twice) the Howard Nemerov Sonnet award.

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