The Revised Version


Lincoln in the fall of 1987 was quite the hopping place! A slightly cooler-than-average autumn played host to several notable events. Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid concert series, then in its third year, came to UNL’s Memorial Stadium in September, helping to raise awareness (and funds) for the plight of the family farmer; in keeping with the theme of civic duty, the Lincoln Recycling Office was also founded that fall. An unseasonably early first snowfall on October 10th (Lincoln’s fourth-earliest snow) didn’t quench the “smoke,…burning,…and the ash” of Howard Nemerov’s “The Revised Version,” published that autumn in the Prairie Schooner. Nemerov had been the US Poet Laureate from 1963 to 1964 and would soon regain the position from 1988 to 1990.

by Tory Clower


The Revised Version

by Howard Nemerov

The common curse forbidden to the young
When we were young – our grownups got it wrong,
Maybe from reading in a bad translation;

It wasn’t so much a curse as an invitation
To the great world’s permanent floating cocktail bash –
The scent, the smoke, the burning, and the ash.

A grownup in my turn I say the spell:
It isn’t Go to Hell, it’s Come to Hell.