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Heaven Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 11

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If you were twenty-seven

and had done time for beating

our ex-wife and had

no dreams you remembered

in the morning, you might

lie on your bed and listen

to a mad canary sing

and think it all right to be

there every Saturday

ignoring your neighbors, the streets,

the signs that said join,

and the need to be helping.

You might build, as he did,

a network of golden ladders

so that the bird could roam

on all levels of the room;

you might paint the ceiling blue,

the floor green, and shade

the place you called the sun

so that things came softly to order

when the light came on.

He and the bird lived

in the fine weather of heaven;

they never aged, they

never tired or wanted

all through that war,

but when it was over

and the nation had been saved,

he knew they'd be hunted.

He knew, as you would too,

that he'd be laid off

for not being braver

and it would do no good

to show how he had taken

clothespins and cardboard

and made each step safe.

It would do no good

to have been one of the few

that climbed higher and higher

even in time of war,

for now there would be the poor

asking for their share,

and hurt men in uniforms,

and no one to believe

that heaven was really here.


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