Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"
This boy lying face down
in my sleep pushes around jars of jelly,
waking me the night he is found

so I can drag him from the wet ground
and clean his blackened belly,
this boy lying face down

who is somehow bound
to me, this hunted herdsman, refugee
waking me the night he is found.

Am I to dress him in an open gown,
bless the holes in his chest with tea
leaves? This boy lying face down,

permeating even the simplest sound,
with the crack in the door he slowly
cries, waking me the night he is found,

lips parted to my blue-black ground,
whispering red vetch inside me,
this slender boy lying down,
waking me the night he is found.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.  
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.  
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?  
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.  
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?  
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,  
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?  
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;  
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do  
To you and me; so take the lively air,  
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.  
What falls away is always. And is near.  
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.  
I learn by going where I have to go.
Time will say nothing but I told you so
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reason why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.
They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away,

And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.

There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.
Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes.
You know that Mama loves you lollipops
and Daddy still has a job to lose.

So put on a party hat. We’ll play the kazoos
loud and louder from the mountaintop.
Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes

and dance the polka with pink kangaroos,
dolphin choirs singing “flip-flop, flip-flop.”
Hey, Daddy still has a job to lose — 

don’t be afraid. Close your eyes, snooze,
because today our suns have flared and dropped.
Tomorrow when you wake, put on your blue shoes.

Eat a good breakfast. Be good in school.
Good boys go to college goody gumdrops
so someday too you’ll have a job to lose.

Waste trucks clatter by as the gray bird coos.
Flames pour forth when the faucet’s unstopped.
Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes.
For now, Daddy still has a job to lose.
To Norbert Valath


To render the ocean one needs a whole year
with Zoom in freezing fingers on a quarter-mile of coast.
Sound is the one true vocabulary of nature

and not the peacock-palette painters swear
he uses for his best stuff, for his daily disposable frescoes.
To render the ocean one needs a whole year

on the quayside tracking the tide’s increasing stature,
its drones and climaxes, the diminuendo when it shows
sound is the one true vocabulary of nature.

Nature plays bass clarinet in a Barcelona pop-up theatre.
In a polo neck he solos the ocean. He tongues, he blows
to render the ocean. One needs a whole year

or centuries to capture even its least-most feature:
like the boat-cove’s lapping, backwashed contraflows.
Sound is the one true vocabulary of Nature,

who’s lost in his MacBook, applying filter after filter
to this day-long rock-pool’s jazz, its stadium of echoes.
To render its ocean one needs a whole year:
sound is the one true vocabulary of nature.
There was no room for us to have feelings.
Under the Queen, we were foiled, our faces blanked of wonder.
A pitiful ordeal, our cheap toil. We hated her for stealing.

Our crooked backs ached; our knees bled from kneeling,
the whole sum of our treasures given up to fund her.
There was no room for us to have feelings,

so we made our way quietly; we arranged our own dealings,
checked what we clocked. Each swallowed their thunder
and railed within. Nothing left out for stealing.

But pound for pound, we grew skinny, weary, reeling
from the new rules she devised. We had to watch and mind her.
There was no room for us to have feelings.

We were audited, then fined. We abided her schooling.
Then, all music stopped. All solitude filled, we couldn't ponder
our losses. We tried to forget how much she was stealing.

Our patron saints left us; the stars took to jeering, leering
at our lessened state. We hardened at our blunder.
There was no room to have any feelings.
What of us? Not a pittance. No worth there for stealing.
What we can say has already been said
about each painting in the gallery—
about the quality of light, the way she holds her head.

So we are silent in the subway, silent in bed.
Our bodies too are mute; we fall asleep knowing
what we could say has already been said.

Over toast and coffee and the newspaper thoroughly read
the day unfolds between us. I am too weak to carry
this quality of light, the way she holds her head.

I would vow to leave if love had left
if this were the wedding of two gypsies.
But what should I say? It has been said

the dead would properly bury the dead
and here I am, alive at last and buried
by the quality of light, and the way she holds her head.

Perhaps women, sex, love are all over-rated.
Which of us is the artist and which the light? You see,
the words I might say have been better said—
words concerning the quality of light, the way you hold your head.
Tell us how the soul is bound and bent
into these knots, and whether any ever
frees itself from such imprisonment.
—Canto XII, Inferno



I say, Without a God there is no hell.
There’s only this—. She rustles for her keys.
The apple tree sheds petal after petal.

She says, Let’s take you to the hospital.
The petals spin like sparks. I close my eyes
and say, Without a God there is no hell,

and there is only this. It’s just as well.
The lawn is red and white. She asks, Who says?
How do you know? The wind fells every petal.

She says, Let’s take you to the hospital.
I cannot breathe. I cannot tell her, Yes—.
Because without a God there is no hell,

as she whispers, Talk to me, I know I will
clamber—but not toward heaven, toward the sky,
eyes winking behind petal after petal.

The rope-burnt bark will flake away and fall.
Knot on my neck, the rest would be so easy:
I’ll pray, Without a God there is no hell,
then slip through petals—through petal after petal.
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