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The Simple Truth Analysis



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

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I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,

took them home, boiled them in their jackets

and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.

Then I walked through the dried fields

on the edge of town.  In middle June the light

hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,

and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds

were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers

squawking back and forth, the finches still darting

into the dusty light.  The woman who sold me

the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone

out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses

praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables

at the road-side stand and urging me to taste

even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,

she swore, from New Jersey.  "Eat, eat" she said,

"Even if you don't I'll say you did."

                                              Some things

you know all your life.  They are so simple and true

they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,

they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,

the glass of water, the absence of light gathering

in the shadows of picture frames, they must be

naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.

My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965

before I went away, before he began to kill himself,

and the two of us to betray our love.  Can you taste

what I'm saying?  It is onions or potatoes, a pinch

of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,

it stays in the back of your throat like a truth

you never uttered because the time was always wrong,

it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,

made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,

in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

I don\'t think it\'s that great. A bit clever thoguh

| Posted on 2011-09-01 | by a guest




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