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The Recitation

by Russell Edson

A newspaper began to recite itself to an old man.

That’s nice, sighed the old man, but I want to sleep now.

But the newspaper continues its interesting recitation of the day’s events, the murders and gossip of the day.

Enough enough, cries the old man.

But the newspaper turns its pages and continues the lengthy discourse on the trends and fashions of the day, leaving no murder or disaster to chance.

Stop it, stop it, you are mad with lies, cries the old man, you only say these things to see me nightmare into screams and cries for mercy; fold yourself and let me sleep.

But the newspaper having finished itself begins itself again.

Please, I beg of you, cries the old man.

But the newspaper continues its recitation of itself.

The old man falls asleep at last and begins to scream, mercy God, mercy, there’s more here that suffers than even you can know!

The newspaper, even though the old man sleeps, continues its recitation.


Russell Edson has books with Harper and Row, Wesleyan, and New Directions. (Fall 1974)

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