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By Robert Creeley

I wanted so ably

to reassure you, I wanted

the man you took to be me,


to comfort you, and got

up, and went to the window,

pushed back, as you asked me to,


the curtain, to see

the outline of the trees

in the night outside.


The light, love,

the light we felt then,

greyly, was it, that


came in, on us, not

merely my hands or yours,

or a wetness so comfortable,


but in the dark then

as you slept, the grey

figure came so close


and leaned over,

between us, as you

slept, restless, and


my own face had to

see it, and be seen by it,

the man it was, your


grey lost tired bewildered

brother, unused, untaken—

hated by love, and dead,


but not dead, for an

instant, saw me, myself

the intruder, as he was not.


I tried to say, it is

all right, she is

happy, you are no longer


needed. I said,

he is dead, and he

went as you shifted


and woke, at first afraid,

then knew by my own knowing

what had happened—


and the light then

of the sun coming

for another morning

in the world.


Robert Creeley, “The World” from Collected Poems of Robert Creeley 1945-1975. Copyright © 1962 by Robert Creeley. Reprinted with the permission of the author and University of California Press, www.ucpress.edu.

Source: Collected Poems of Robert Creeley 1945-1975 (University of California Press, 1983)

  • Living
  • Relationships

Poet Bio

Robert Creeley
Before he was five, Robert Creeley had lost the use of an eye in a freak accident and his father to a heart attack; not surprisingly, his poetry conveys an acute sense of the body’s frailty and the anguish of isolation, yet it also records the joys of love and family life. His verse is instantly recognizable—brief in its individual lines and overall length, and often so terse as to be opaque—while concerned to trace the puzzlements of the mind and heart as they move through experiences of intense intimacy. Much influenced by jazz musicians and action painters, Creeley stressed the process of writing over any finished product.

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