Sleeping On The Wing
Perhaps it is to avoid some great sadness,
as in a Restoration tragedy the hero cries 'Sleep!
O for a long sound sleep and so forget it! '
that one flies, soaring above the shoreless city,
veering upward from the pavement as a pigeon
does when a car honks or a door slams, the door
of dreams, life perpetuated in parti-colored loves
and beautiful lies all in different languages.
Fear drops away too, like the cement, and you
are over the Atlantic. Where is Spain? where is
who? The Civil War was fought to free the slaves,
was it? A sudden down-draught reminds you of gravity
and your position in respect to human love. But
here is where the gods are, speculating, bemused.
Once you are helpless, you are free, can you believe
that? Never to waken to the sad struggle of a face?
to travel always over some impersonal vastness,
to be out of, forever, neither in nor for!
The eyes roll asleep as if turned by the wind
and the lids flutter open slightly like a wing.
The world is an iceberg, so much is invisible!
and was and is, and yet the form, it may be sleeping
too. Those features etched in the ice of someone
loved who died, you are a sculptor dreaming of space
and speed, your hand alone could have done this.
Curiosity, the passionate hand of desire. Dead,
or sleeping? Is there speed enough? And, swooping,
you relinquish all that you have made your own,
the kingdom of your self sailing, for you must awake
and breathe your warmth in this beloved image
whether it's dead or merely disappearing,
as space is disappearing and your singularity
Frank O'Hara's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Sleeping On The Wing by Frank O'Hara )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
Poem of the Day
- S.O. S., Sandra Feldman
- Something is in the house, Sarah Liz Bowman
- Tragedy and Comedy, Eugene Levich
- Bound to thaw, george albot
- Not Obligated To Offer Options, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- A taste of love, JJ Evendon
- Greeting Cards, Sara Fielder
- The Lorry From The North, Tony Adah
- Father's Admonition, Tony Adah
- Those who lose, Luv Artem