Thursday, September 6, 2012

From Stanley Kunitz

From The Poetry Garden, Seattle Center
An intimate gathering tonight at The Poetry Garden, Seattle Center. Glad to find this place of carved stones with lines from Stanley Kunitz, Pablo Neruda, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Anne Sexton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marge Piercy and others. This is a city alive with poetry --- even in its carved stones.

Here is "The Layers" --- the poem these lines are taken from. This is one of my all time favorites.

The Layers

 
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.  

1 comment:

  1. I do like this poem. Thanks for letting me know about it. Have a great week.

    PS I know you have probably been busy. Just a wee reminder that it would be great if you followed Carole's Chatter back. Cheers

    ReplyDelete