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By Stanley Kunitz

I dreamed that I was old: in stale declension   

Fallen from my prime, when company

Was mine, cat-nimbleness, and green invention,   

Before time took my leafy hours away.


My wisdom, ripe with body’s ruin, found   

Itself tart recompense for what was lost

In false exchange: since wisdom in the ground   

Has no apocalypse or pentecost.


I wept for my youth, sweet passionate young thought,

And cozy women dead that by my side   

Once lay: I wept with bitter longing, not   

Remembering how in my youth I cried.


Stanley Kunitz, “I Dreamed That I Was Old” from The Poems of Stanley Kunitz, 1928-1978. Copyright © 1930, 1944, 1958, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1979 by Stanley Kunitz. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Selected Poems 1928-1958 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1958)

  • Living
  • Love
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and received a BA and MA from Harvard. His first book of poetry, Intellectual Things, was published in 1930, but it was not until the 1950s, when he received the Pulitzer Prize, that he gained widespread recognition. His poetry gradually evolved, from the very formal, heavily metered, esoteric poetry of his early years, to the conversational, free verse, “transparent” poems of his later years.

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