Josephine Miles

(1911-1985 / Chicago, Illinois)

Josephine Miles
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Josephine Miles (June 11, 1911 – May 12, 1985) was an American poet and literary critic; the first woman to be tenured in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She wrote over a dozen books of poetry and several works of criticism.

Born in Chicago in 1911, her family moved when she was young to Southern California. Due to a disabling arthritis, she was educated at home by tutors, but was able to graduate from Los Angeles High School in a class which included the composer John Cage.

Miles attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature before moving to the University of California, ... more »

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Best Poem of Josephine Miles

[Down From Another Planet They Have Settled To Mend]

Down from another planet they have settled to mend
The Hampton Institute banisters. They wear bow ties and braces.
The flutings they polish with a polished hand.

Wingless, they build and repair
The mansions of what we have thought to be our inheritance.
Caution and candor they labor to maintain.

They are out of phase. I prepare
To burn all gentle structures, greek or thatch,
Under the masterful torch of my president here and abroad,

Till stubble outsmolders, and muslim and buddhist crack
In the orbit of...

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