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By Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,   

that is not mine, but is a made place,


that is mine, it is so near to the heart,   

an eternal pasture folded in all thought   

so that there is a hall therein


that is a made place, created by light   

wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.


Wherefrom fall all architectures I am

I say are likenesses of the First Beloved   

whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.


She it is Queen Under The Hill

whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words   

that is a field folded.


It is only a dream of the grass blowing   

east against the source of the sun

in an hour before the sun’s going down


whose secret we see in a children’s game   

of ring a round of roses told.


Often I am permitted to return to a meadow   

as if it were a given property of the mind   

that certain bounds hold against chaos,


that is a place of first permission,   

everlasting omen of what is.


Robert Duncan, “Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow” from The Opening of the Field. Copyright © 1960 by Robert Duncan. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)

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Poet Bio

Robert Duncan
Robert Duncan was born in Oakland, California. His mother died at his birth and his father was unable to raise him. In 1920 Joseph and Minnehaha Symmes adopted him. Only after his discharge from the army did he take the name Robert Duncan, a composite from his birth name (Edward Howard Duncan) and his adopted name (Robert Edward Symmes). He attended the University of California, Berkeley but never finished. Duncan explored the topic of his own homosexuality and homosexuality in society in his writing.  See More By This Poet

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