On Hatred of the Enlightenment – a poem by Brian Glaser

On Hatred of the Enlightenment

from Five Cantos on Enlightenment

My first word as a child was light.
My mother brought me into dark rooms
And spoke the word as she flipped the switch

And one day at around twelve months
I said the word before she did.
I had a concept and its sound: marked by history.

And months before that I had been taken
Away from her and put through
A spinal tap as a neonate

Because I had spinal meningitis.
Twenty hours separated as a newborn
And subjected to excruciating pain alone.

So when I talk to you, when I pose a question
To you, I have come to understand why
I do not wholly expect that you will answer.

During the Second World War it became
Thinkable to hate the Enlightenment,
As Horkheimer and Adorno did.

What do I have left if I join them—
If I try to return to the dark room
And instead of choosing the concept—

Discovering it again as we may perpetually do—
I sit in silence, rejecting the shared word,
The half-credible evidence of a bond restored?


Brian Glaser teaches at Chapman University in Orange, California. His first book of poetry, The Sacred Heart, is forthcoming at the end of 2018 from Aldrich Press.

Published by


poet, tutor, runner, cat lady

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s