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Best Famous Stanley Kunitz Poems

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by Stanley Kunitz | |

End of Summer

 An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field Amid the stubble and the stones Amaded, while a small worm lisped to me The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue, A hawk broke from his cloudless tower, The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew That part of my life was forever over.
Already the iron door of the North Clangs open: birds,leaves,snows Order their populations forth, And a cruel wind blows.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

The Long Boat

 When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose between jumping and calling, somehow he felt absolved and free of his burdens, those mottoes stamped on his name-tag: conscience, ambition, and all that caring.
He was content to lie down with the family ghosts in the slop of his cradle, buffeted by the storm, endlessly drifting.
Peace! Peace! To be rocked by the Infinite! As if it didn't matter which way was home; as if he didn't know he loved the earth so much he wanted to stay forever.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

The Snakes of September

 All summer I heard them 
rustling in the shrubbery, 
outracing me from tier 
to tier in my garden,
a whisper among the viburnums, 
a signal flashed from the hedgerow,
a shadow pulsing 
in the barberry thicket.
Now that the nights are chill and the annuals spent, I should have thought them gone, in a torpor of blood slipped to the nether world before the sickle frost.
Not so.
In the deceptive balm of noon, as if defiant of the curse that spoiled another garden, these two appear on show through a narrow slit in the dense green brocade of a north-country spruce, dangling head-down, entwined in a brazen love-knot.
I put out my hand and stroke the fine, dry grit of their skins.
After all, we are partners in this land, co-signers of a covenant.
At my touch the wild braid of creation trembles.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

An Old Cracked Tune

 My name is Solomon Levi,
the desert is my home,
my mother's breast was thorny,
and father I had none.
The sands whispered, Be separate, the stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving, on the edge of the road.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

First Love

 At his incipient sun 
The ice of twenty winters broke, 
Crackling, in her eyes.
Her mirroring, still mind, That held the world (made double) calm, Went fluid, and it ran.
There was a stir of music, Mixed with flowers, in her blood; A swift impulsive balm From obscure roots; Gold bees of clinging light Swarmed in her brow.
Her throat is full of songs, She hums, she is sensible of wings Growing on her heart.
She is a tree in spring Trembling with the hope of leaves, Of which the leaves are tongues.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

Master And Mistress

 As if I were composed of dust and air,
The shape confronting me upon the stair
(Athlete of shadow, lighted by a stain
On its disjunctive breast--I saw it plain--)
Moved through my middle flesh.
I turned around, Shaken and it was marching without sound Beyond the door; and when my hand was taken From my mouth to beat the standing heart, I cried My distant name, thinking myself had died.
One moment I was entered; one moment then I knew a total century of pain Between the twinkling of two thoughts.
The ghost Knocked on my ribs, demanding, "Host! Host! I am diseased with motion.
Give me bread Before I quickly go.
Shall I be fed?" Yielding, I begged of him: "Partake of me.
Whatever runneth from the artery, This body and its unfamiliar wine, Stored in whatever dark of love, are thine.
" But he denied me, saying, "Every part of thee is given, yea, thy flesh, thy heart.
"


by Stanley Kunitz | |

After The Last Dynasty

 Reading in Li Po
how "the peach blossom follows the water"
I keep thinking of you
because you were so much like
Chairman Mao,
naturally with the sex 
transposed
and the figure slighter.
Loving you was a kind of Chinese guerilla war.
Thanks to your lightfoot genius no Eighth Route Army kept its lines more fluid, traveled with less baggage so nibbled the advantage.
Even with your small bad heart you made a dance of departures.
In the cold spring rains when last you failed me I had nothing left to spend but a red crayon language on the character of the enemy to break appointments, to fight us not with his strength but with his weakness, to kill us not with his health but with his sickness.
Pet, spitfire, blue-eyed pony, here is a new note I want to pin on your door, though I am ten years late and you are nowhere: Tell me, are you stillmistress of the valley, what trophies drift downriver, why did you keep me waiting?


by Stanley Kunitz | |

The Quarrel

 The word I spoke in anger 
weighs less than a parsley seed, 
but a road runs through it 
that leads to my grave,
that bought-and-paid-for lot 
on a salt-sprayed hill in Truro
where the scrub pines 
overlook the bay.
Half-way I'm dead enough, strayed from my own nature and my fierce hold on life.
If I could cry, I'd cry, but I'm too old to be anybody's child.
Liebchen, with whom should I quarrel except in the hiss of love, that harsh, irregular flame?


by Stanley Kunitz | |

The Round

 Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house, so I have trudged downstairs to my cell, so I am sitting in semi-dark hunched over my desk with nothing for a view to tempt me but a bloated compost heap, steamy old stinkpile, under my window; and I pick my notebook up and I start to read aloud the still-wet words I scribbled on the blotted page: "Light splashed .
.
.
" I can scarcely wait till tomorrow when a new life begins for me, as it does each day, as it does each day.


by Stanley Kunitz | |

The Portrait

 My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name in her deepest cabinet and would not let him out, though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic with the pastel portrait in my hand of a long-lipped stranger with a brave moustache and deep brown level eyes, she ripped it into shreds without a single word and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year I can feel my cheek still burning.