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[ for your enemy]

by Joseph Brodsky

. . . as for your enemy, may I suggest the following:
under no circumstances must you tell him that he is wrong.
No, not because the wronger he gets, the faster
he is ruined. Alas, schadenfreude pays
out of your pocket, and earlier than expected.
But because the wronger he gets, the sooner
the wrong will have run its course. Somewhere by forty
the game’s up, and one starts to repeat oneself
whether one’s good or evil. That’s how one learns the wrong
is finite. Had it been otherwise,
it wouldn’t resort to the five/six digit
tattoo on so many left
arms nor to raising the right one in
a salute or, barring that, election.



Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad on May 24, 1940. Celebrated as the greatest Russian poet of his generation, he authored nine volumes of poetry, as well as several collections of essays, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987. He died on January 28, 1996, of a heart attack in his Brooklyn apartment.

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