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I Sing The Body Electric Analysis

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

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People sit numbly at the counter

waiting for breakfast or service.

Today it's Hartford, Connecticut

more than twenty-five years after

the last death of Wallace Stevens.

I have come in out of the cold

and wind of a Sunday morning

of early March, and I seem to be

crying, but I'm only freezing

and unpeeled. The waitress brings

me hot tea in a cracked cup,

and soon it's all over my paper,

and so she refills it. I read

slowly in The New York Times

that poems are dying in Iowa,

Missoula, on the outskirts of Reno,

in the shopping galleries of Houston.

We should all go to the grave

of the unknown poet while the rain

streaks our notebooks or stand

for hours in the freezing winds

off the lost books of our fathers

or at least until we can no longer

hold our pencils. Men keep coming

in and going out, and two of them

recall the great dirty fights

between Willy Pep and Sandy Sadler,

between little white perfection

and death in red plaid trunks.

I want to tell them I saw

the last fight, I rode out

to Yankee Stadium with two deserters

from the French Army of Indochina

and back with a drunken priest

and both ways the whole train

smelled of piss and vomit, but no

one would believe me. Those are

the true legends better left to die.

In my black rain coat I go back

out into the gray morning and dare

the cars on North Indemnity Boulevard

to hit me, but no one wants trouble

at this hour. I have crossed

a continent to bring these citizens

the poems of the snowy mountains,

of the forges of hopelessness,

of the survivors of wars they

never heard of and won't believe.

Nothing is alive in this tunnel

of winds of the end of winter

except the last raging of winter,

the cats peering smugly from the homes

of strangers, and the great stunned sky

slowly settling like a dark cloud

lined only with smaller dark clouds.


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