“Curriculum Vitae” is a short lyric in two stanzas. It is written in verse that is not rhymed, but which uses the number of syllables in a line to organize the poem. The title means “course of life” in Latin. It refers to the brief biographical account that people (particularly academics) usually include when applying for jobs or other positions. In this poem, the phrase does not refer to an ordinary vocation: It refers to the tasks and experiences that go along with the vocation of being a poet. The title is partially ironic. When one normally hears this phrase, one expects a list of previous occupations or achievements. Instead, the poet presents a stark yet highly vivid picture of the basic texture of his daily life.
As the poem is about the life of a poet, the speaker of the poem is probably Samuel Menashe himself. The poem opens with the image of a “Scribe out of work.” It is the poet himself, whom the reader assumes is not employed in a conventional, wage-earning job. This, though, is not the only meaning here. In the second and third lines, it is revealed that the poet is “At a loss for words/ Not his to begin with.” The truer meaning of being out of work has to do with the momentary lapse in his poetic inspiration. The poet cannot think of what words he should write.
The first stanza concludes with a scene of the poet standing at his window, waiting for the inspiration to come so that he can write more poetry. By this...
(The entire section is 492 words.)