I hope that where you are
(I think so, too)
People, including literary people,
Will see you more as you were;
And not get you so angry
You'd die sooner than you had to.
You wanted criticism for everything you did,
That had in it—the criticism—
The seeing of what it was.
You didn't want the kind of praise you got,
When you already had been praised;
For you were recognized, recognized.
You wanted more sincerity than you got.
You didn't want egos-around-literature to play about you, feed on you, pretend.
You wanted criticism.
Domestically, you didn't get it.
You didn't get it from the literary people you knew, awed by your reputation and ready to use it.
You were disgusted.
You were angry.
You screamed, even as you were famous, reading in colleges and halls everywhere:
Won't somebody know me,
Truly criticize me?
Flesh isn't criticism;
Closeness isn't criticism;
Those close to me don't criticize me;
Those closest to me don't;
The literary people hum and sigh and utter oily brightnesses.
You said: I'd rather be known, known,
But you were famous without being known.
I am still for the honesty in you, which had such a hard time.
From Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems
© 1957 by Eli Siegel