Denise Levertov

(24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997 / Ilford, Essex)

People At Night - Poem by Denise Levertov

A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd.       & nbsp;  We won't
      &nbs p;         ;     look for each other, either-
wander off, each alone, not looking
in the slow crowd. Among sideshows
               & nbsp;     under movie signs,
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     pictures made of a million lights,
      &n bsp;       &nb sp;     giants that move and again move
        ;              again, above a cloud of thick smells,
      &n bsp;       &nb sp;     franks, roasted nutmeats-

Or going up to some apartment, yours
      &nbs p;         ;     or yours, finding
someone sitting in the dark:
who is it really? So you switch the
light on to see: you know the name but
who is it ?
       &n bsp;  But you won't see.

The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a
pause. But you command. It grabs
each face and holds it up
by the hair for you, mask after mask.
      &nbs p;         ;     You  &nb sp;and   you and I   repeat
   &n bsp;       &nb sp;       &nbs p;gestures that make do when speech
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     has failed       & nbsp;  and talk
        ;              and talk, laughing, saying
      &nb sp;       &nbs p;     'I', and 'I',
meaning 'Anybody'.
       ;                 & nbsp;       No one.


Comments about People At Night by Denise Levertov

  • Fabrizio Frosini (11/14/2015 9:59:00 AM)


    - People At Night -


    A night that cuts between you and you

    and you and you and you

    and me: jostles us apart, a man elbowing

    through a crowd. We won’t

    look for each other, either-

    wander off, each alone, not looking

    in the slow crowd. Among the sideshows

    under movie signs,

    pictures made of a million lights,

    giants that move and again move

    again, above a cloud of thick smells,

    franks, roasted nutmeats-


    Or going up to some apartment, yours

    or yours, finding

    someone sitting int he dark:

    who is it really? So you switch the

    light on to see: you know the name but

    who it?

    But you won’t see.



    The florescent light flickers sullenly, a

    pause, but you command. It grabs

    each face and holds it up

    by the hair for you, mask after mask.

    You and you and I repeat

    gestures that make do when speech

    and failed and talk

    and talk, laughing saying

    ” I” and “I”.

    meaning “Anybody”

    No one.
    (Report) Reply

    9 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Fabrizio Frosini (11/14/2015 9:54:00 AM)


    the text should be reformatted... (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: people, light, hair, night, alone, dark



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



[Report Error]