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Songs Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 12

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Dawn coming in over the fields

of darkness takes me by surprise

and I look up from my solitary road

pleased not to be alone, the birds

now choiring from the orange groves

huddling to the low hills. But sorry

that this night has ended, a night

in which you spoke of how little love

we seemed to have known and all of it

going from one of us to the other.

You could tell the words took me

by surprise, as they often will, and you

grew shy and held me away for a while,

your eyes enormous in the darkness,

almost as large as your hunger

to see and be seen over and over.

30 years ago I heard a woman sing

of the motherless child sometimes

she felt like. In a white dress

this black woman with a gardenia

in her hair leaned on the piano

and stared out into the breathing darkness

of unknown men and women needing

her songs. There were those among

us who cried, those who rejoiced

that she was back before us for a time,

a time not to be much longer, for

the voice was going and the habits

slowly becoming all there was of her.

And I believe that night she cared

for the purity of the songs and not

much else. Oh, she still saw

the slow gathering of that red dusk

that hovered over her cities, and no

doubt dawns like this one caught

her on the roads from job to job,

but the words she'd lived by were

drained of mystery as this sky

is now, and there was no more "Easy

Living" and she was "Miss Brown" to

no one and no one was her "Lover Man."

The only songs that mattered were wordless

like those rising in confusion from

the trees or wind-songs that waken

the grass that slept a century, that

waken me to how far we've come.


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