Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

Any Night - Poem by Philip Levine

Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine,
the yellowing ash, all the trees
are gone, and I was older than
all of them. I am older than the moon,
than the stars that fill my plate,
than the unseen planets that huddle
together here at the end of a year
no one wanted. A year more than a year,
in which the sparrows learned
to fly backwards into eternity.
Their brothers and sisters saw this
and refuse to build nests. Before
the week is over they will all
have gone, and the chorus of love
that filled my yard and spilled
into my kitchen each evening
will be gone. I will have to learn
to sing in the voices of pure joy
and pure pain. I will have to forget
my name, my childhood, the years
under the cold dominion of the clock
so that this voice, torn and cracked,
can reach the low hills that shielded
the orange trees once. I will stand
on the back porch as the cold
drifts in, and sing, not for joy,
not for love, not even to be heard.
I will sing so that the darkness
can take hold and whatever
is left, the fallen fruit, the last
leaf, the puzzled squirrel, the child
far from home, lost, will believe
this could be any night. That boy,
walking alone, thinking of nothing
or reciting his favorite names
to the moon and stars, let him
find the home he left this morning,
let him hear a prayer out
of the raging mouth of the wind.
Let him repeat that prayer,
the prayer that night follows day,
that life follows death, that in time
we find our lives. Don't let him see
all that has gone. Let him love
the darkness. Look, he's running
and singing too. He could be happy.


Comments about Any Night by Philip Levine

  • Subhas Chandra Chakra Subhas Chandra Chakra (5/15/2016 10:41:00 AM)


    I am older than the moon,
    than the stars that fill my plate,
    than the unseen planets that huddle
    together here at the end of a year
    no one wanted. A year more than a year,
    in which the sparrows learned
    to fly backwards into eternity.
    Beautiful and praiseworthy lines. Loved the poem.10 for it.
    Thanks for sharing the poem.
    Subhas (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Ratnakar Mandlik (5/15/2016 6:30:00 AM)


    A great poem displaying wonderful flight of imagery and understanding about the intricacies of life. Thanks for sharing it here. (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (5/15/2016 2:34:00 AM)


    IThe poem is so beautifully written with word power. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (5/15/2016 12:37:00 AM)


    The unseen planets! ! With the muse of the universe. Nice piece of work. (Report) Reply

  • Marko Duvnjak (4/3/2015 1:01:00 PM)


    Wow brilliant, so glad I found this poet (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »



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Read poems about / on: childhood, moon, running, joy, home, believe, together, happy, child, lost, pain, wind, alone, night, death, love, sister, star, brother, tree



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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