October 11, 2008

The Night Wind Carries

Ran into this poem by Denise Levertov, while looking for something about Creeley (since he wrote the Introduction to a book of her Selected Poems; adapted from a lecture he gave at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in honor of her life and work.)
September 1961

This is the year the old ones,
the old great ones
leave us alone on the road.

The road leads to the sea.
We have the words in our pockets,
obscure directions. The old ones

have taken away the light of their presence,
we see it moving away over a hill
off to one side.

They are not dying,
they are withdrawn
into a painful privacy

learning to live without words.
E. P. "It looks like dying"-Williams: "I can't
describe to you what has been

happening to me"-
H. D. "unable to speak."
The darkness

twists itself in the wind, the stars
are small, the horizon
ringed with confused urban light-haze.

They have told us
the road leads to the sea,
and given

the language into our hands.
We hear
our footsteps each time a truck

has dazzled past us and gone
leaving us new silence.
I can't reach

the sea on this endless
road to the sea unless
one turns aside at the end, it seems,

the owl that silently glides above it
aslant, back and forth,

and away into deep woods.

But for us the road
unfurls itself, we count the
words in our pockets, we wonder

how it will be without them, we don't
stop walking, we know
there is far to go, sometimes

we think the night wind carries
a smell of the sea...
Seems, 1961 was the year William Carlos Williams and Hilda Doolittle both had severe strokes, and Ezra Pound stopped writing and this poem is in honor of those great ones leaving us alone on the road.

Picture titled Night Wind Landscape I is © Karen Kucharski (kkucharskiart@yahoo.com)

But, of course, to me...this is the year of loss in a different way. How will it be without him is difficult to fathom but sometimes the night wind carries him back to me through dreams.

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