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Best Famous Stanley Kunitz Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Stanley Kunitz poems. This is a select list of the best famous Stanley Kunitz poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Stanley Kunitz poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Stanley Kunitz poems.

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by Stanley Kunitz |

Single Vision

 Before I am completely shriven
I shall reject my inch of heaven.
Cancel my eyes, and, standing, sink Into my deepest self; there drink Memory down.
The banner of My blood, unfurled, will not be love, Only the pity and the pride Of it, pinned to my open side.
When I have utterly refined The composition of my mind, Shaped language of my marrow till Its forms are instant to my will, Suffered the leaf of my heart to fall Under the wind, and, stripping all The tender blanket from my bone, Rise like a skeleton in the sun, I shall have risen to disown The good mortality I won.
Drectly risen with the stain Of life upon my crested brain, Which I shall shake against my ghost To frighten him, when I am lost.
Gladly as any poison, yield My halved conscience, brightly peeled; Infect him, since we live but once, With the unused evil in my bones.
I'll shed the tear of souls, the true Sweat, Blake's intellectual dew, Before I am resigned to slip A dusty finger on my lip.


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 |

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 |

The Layers

 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.


by Stanley Kunitz |

The Testing-Tree

 1

On my way home from school
up tribal Providence Hill
past the Academy ballpark
where I could never hope to play
I scuffed in the drainage ditch
among the sodden seethe of leaves
hunting for perfect stones
rolled out of glacial time
into my pitcher’s hand;
then sprinted lickety-
split on my magic Keds
from a crouching start,
scarcely touching the ground
with my flying skin
as I poured it on
for the prize of the mastery
over that stretch of road,
with no one no where to deny
when I flung myself down
that on the given course
I was the world’s fastest human.
2 Around the bend that tried to loop me home dawdling came natural across a nettled field riddled with rabbit-life where the bees sank sugar-wells in the trunks of the maples and a stringy old lilac more than two stories tall blazing with mildew remembered a door in the long teeth of the woods.
All of it happened slow: brushing the stickseed off, wading through jewelweed strangled by angel’s hair, spotting the print of the deer and the red fox’s scats.
Once I owned the key to an umbrageous trail thickened with mosses where flickering presences gave me right of passage as I followed in the steps of straight-backed Massassoit soundlessly heel-and-toe practicing my Indian walk.
3 Past the abandoned quarry where the pale sun bobbed in the sump of the granite, past copperhead ledge, where the ferns gave foothold, I walked, deliberate, on to the clearing, with the stones in my pocket changing to oracles and my coiled ear tuned to the slightest leaf-stir.
I had kept my appointment.
There I stood int he shadow, at fifty measured paces, of the inexhaustible oak, tyrant and target, Jehovah of acorns, watchtower of the thunders, that locked King Philip’s War in its annulated core under the cut of my name.
Father wherever you are I have only three throws bless my good right arm.
In the haze of afternoon, while the air flowed saffron, I played my game for keeps-- for love, for poetry, and for eternal life-- after the trials of summer.
4 In the recurring dream my mother stands in her bridal gown under the burning lilac, with Bernard Shaw and Bertie Russell kissing her hands; the house behind her is in ruins; she is wearing an owl’s face and makes barking noises.
Her minatory finger points.
I pass through the cardboard doorway askew in the field and peer down a well where an albino walrus huffs.
He has the gentlest eyes.
If the dirt keeps sifting in, staining the water yellow, why should I be blamed? Never try to explain.
That single Model A sputtering up the grade unfurled a highway behind where the tanks maneuver, revolving their turrets.
In a murderous time the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go through dark and deeper dark and not to turn.
I am looking for the trail.
Where is my testing-tree? Give me back my stones!


by Stanley Kunitz |

Passing Through

 Nobody in the widow's household
ever celebrated anniversaries.
In the secrecy of my room I would not admit I cared that my friends were given parties.
Before I left town for school my birthday went up in smoke in a fire at City Hall that gutted the Department of Vital Statistics.
If it weren't for a census report of a five-year-old White Male sharing my mother's address at the Green Street tenement in Worcester I'd have no documentary proof that I exist.
You are the first, my dear, to bully me into these festive occasions.
Sometimes, you say, I wear an abstracted look that drives you up the wall, as though it signified distress or disaffection.
Don't take it so to heart.
Maybe I enjoy not-being as much as being who I am.
Maybe it's time for me to practice growing old.
The way I look at it, I'm passing through a phase: gradually I'm changing to a word.
Whatever you choose to claim of me is always yours: nothing is truly mine except my name.
I only borrowed this dust.


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 |

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 |

The Science Of The Night

 I touch you in the night, whose gift was you,
My careless sprawler,
And I touch you cold, unstirring, star-bemused,
That have become the land of your self-strangeness.
What long seduction of the bone has led you Down the imploring roads I cannot take Into the arms of ghosts I never knew, Leaving my manhood on a rumpled field To guard you where you lie so deep In absent-mindedness, Caught in the calcium snows of sleep? And even should I track you to your birth Through all the cities of your mortal trial, As in my jealous thought I try to do, You would escape me--from the brink of earth Take off to where the lawless auroras run, You with your wild and metaphysic heart.
My touch is on you, who are light-years gone.
We are not souls but systems, and we move In clouds of our unknowing like great nebulae.
Our very motives swirl and have their start With father lion and with mother crab.
Dreamer, my own lost rib, Whose planetary dust is blowing Past archipelagoes of myth and light What far Magellans are you mistress of To whom you speed the pleasure of your art? As through a glass that magnifies my loss I see the lines of your spectrum shifting red, The universe expanding, thinning out, Our worlds flying, oh flying, fast apart.
From hooded powers and from abstract flight I summon you, your person and your pride.
Fall to me now from outer space, Still fastened desperately to my side; Through gulfs of streaming air Bring me the mornings of the milky ways Down to my threshold in your drowsy eyes; And by the virtue of your honeyed word Restore the liquid language of the moon, That in gold mines of secrecy you delve.
Awake! My whirling hands stay at the noon, Each cell within my body holds a heart And all my hearts in unison strike twelve.


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.