By Kenneth Patchen
In the shape of this night, in the still fall
of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father
Other bells that we would ring.
Kenneth Patchen, “At the New Year” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1939 by Kenneth Patchen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: Collected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1939)
More By This Poet
The Snow Is Deep on the Ground
The snow is deep on the ground.
Always the light falls
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.
This is a good world.
The war has failed.
God shall not forget us.
Who made the snow waits where love is.
Only a few go mad.
'Be Music, Night'
Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs
Be a hand, sea,
That her dreams may watch
Thy guidesman touching the green flesh of the world
Be a voice, sky,
That her beauties may be counted
And the stars will tilt...
More Poems about Nature
Listening in Deep Space
We've always been out looking for answers,
telling stories about ourselves,
searching for connection, choosing
to send out Stravinsky and whale song,
which, in translation, might very well be
our undoing instead of a welcome.
We launch satellites, probes, telescopes
unfolding like origami, navigating
geomagnetic storms, major disruptions.
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
More Poems about Relationships
Mommy always wanted
To be famous
She would have us (my sister and me)
In all the talent shows
But I could not carry the harmony
Then she had me
Though The Isley Brothers
Ronald’s sweet voice and Vernon
Doing “the Itch”
Sort of like Michael Jackson
my dead grandmother’s young
Japanese maple was uprooted stolen
last week scattered leaves crushed
under a stranger’s foot. to recover
More Poems about Religion
Wake up, greet the sun, and pray.
Burn cedar, sweet grass, sage—
sacred herbs to honor the lives we’ve been given,
for we have been gifted these ways since the beginning of time.
Remember, when you step into the arena of your life,
For the Feral Splendor That Remains
sometimes I strain