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Night Thoughts Over A Sick Child Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 10

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Numb, stiff, broken by no sleep,

I keep night watch. Looking for

signs to quiet fear, I creep

closer to his bed and hear

his breath come and go, holding

my own as if my own were

all I paid. Nothing I bring,

say, or do has meaning here.

Outside, ice crusts on river

and pond; wild hare come to my

door pacified by torture.

No less ignorant than they

of what grips and why, I am

moved to prayer, the quaint gestures

which ennoble beyond shame

only the mute listener.

No one hears. A dry wind shifts

dry snow, indifferently;

the roof, rotting beneath drifts,

sighs and holds. Terrified by

sleep, the child strives toward

consciousness and the known pain.

If it were mine by one word

I would not save any man,

myself or the universe

at such cost: reality.

Heir to an ancestral curse

though fallen from Judah's tree,

I take up into my arms my hopes,

my son, for what it's worth give

bodily warmth. When he escapes

his heritage, then what have

I left but false remembrance

and the name? Against that day

there is no armor or stance,

only the frail dignity

of surrender, which is all

that can separate me now

or then from the dumb beast's fall,

unseen in the frozen snow.


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