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Any Night Analysis

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

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Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine,

the yellowing ash, all the trees

are gone, and I was older than

all of them. I am older than the moon,

than the stars that fill my plate,

than the unseen planets that huddle

together here at the end of a year

no one wanted. A year more than a year,

in which the sparrows learned

to fly backwards into eternity.

Their brothers and sisters saw this

and refuse to build nests. Before

the week is over they will all

have gone, and the chorus of love

that filled my yard and spilled

into my kitchen each evening

will be gone. I will have to learn

to sing in the voices of pure joy

and pure pain. I will have to forget

my name, my childhood, the years

under the cold dominion of the clock

so that this voice, torn and cracked,

can reach the low hills that shielded

the orange trees once. I will stand

on the back porch as the cold

drifts in, and sing, not for joy,

not for love, not even to be heard.

I will sing so that the darkness

can take hold and whatever

is left, the fallen fruit, the last

leaf, the puzzled squirrel, the child

far from home, lost, will believe

this could be any night. That boy,

walking alone, thinking of nothing

or reciting his favorite names

to the moon and stars, let him

find the home he left this morning,

let him hear a prayer out

of the raging mouth of the wind.

Let him repeat that prayer,

the prayer that night follows day,

that life follows death, that in time

we find our lives. Don't let him see

all that has gone. Let him love

the darkness. Look, he's running

and singing too. He could be happy.


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