Yvor Winters was born in Chicago in 1900 and died Palo Alto, California in 1968. He was studying at the University of Chicago when he was diagnosed as tubercular and had to relocate to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for his health. His early experimental poems, the striking one-line works in the imagist mode as well as the formalist works of his first two books, published in 1921 and 1922, were all written at a tuberculosis sanitarium. In 1923-24 he taught in the grade school and high school in the coal-mining camp towns of Madrid, and Cerillo, New Mexico. About that experience he remarked, in an introduction to his early poems, in 1966: "Accidents, many fatal, were common in the mines, from ... more »
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Yvor Winters Poems
At the San Francisco Airport
This is the terminal: the light Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
I, one who never speaks, Listened days in summer trees, Each day a rustling leaf.
A Song in Passing
Where am I now? And what Am I to say portends? Death is but death, and not The most obtuse of ends.
My mother Foresaw deaths And walked among Chrysanthemums,
Sonnet to the Moon
Now every leaf, though colorless, burns bright With disembodied and celestial light, And drops without a movement or a sound A pillar of darkness to the shifting ground.
By the Road to the Air Base
The calloused grass lies hard Against the cracking plain: Life is a grayish stain; The salt-marsh hems my yard.
Where I walk out to meet you on the cloth of burning fields
An October Nocturne
The night was faint and sheer; Immobile, road and dune. Then, for a moment, clear, A plane moved past the moon.
The Empty Hills
The grandeur of deep afternoons, The pomp of haze on marble hills, Where every white-walled villa swoons Through violence that heat fulfills,
The branches, jointed, pointing up and out, shine out like brass.
God spoke once in the dark: dead sound in the dead silence. I turned in my sleep. I slept and sank away.
One Ran Before
I could tell Of silence where One ran before Himself and fell
To the Holy Spirit
Immeasurable haze: The desert valley spreads Up golden river-beds As if in other days.
I was the patriarch of the shining land, Of the blond summer and metallic grain; Men vanished at the motion of my hand,
Comments about Yvor Winters
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
At the San Francisco Airport
This is the terminal: the light
Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
The metal glitters, deep and bright/
Great planes are waiting in the yard-
They are already in the night.
And you are here beside me, small.
Containted and fragile, and intent
On things that I but half recall-
Yet going whither you are bent.
I am the past, and that is all.
But you and I in part are one:
The frightened brain, the nervous will,
The knowledge of what must be done,
The passion to acquire the skill
To face that which you dare not shun.
The rain of ...