Dana Gioia

(24 December 1950 / Hawthorne, California)

Words - Poem by Dana Gioia

The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other--
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper--
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.

The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always--
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.

Comments about Words by Dana Gioia

  • (7/13/2016 9:51:00 PM)

    Well-thought and well-crafted. I too wrote verse, perhaps not so terse,
    but wondered about the gap between words;
    I used to like Lewis Carroll's twisted saying: Take care of the sounds,
    and the sense will take care of itself; or contrarywise perhaps. Does it
    matter? AM
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  • Fabrizio Frosini (12/13/2015 2:42:00 PM)

    a beautiful opening:

    '' The world does not need words. It articulates itself
    in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. [..] ''


    '' Il mondo non ha bisogno di parole. Scandisce se stesso
    Con la luce, le foglie e le ombre. [..] ''
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2014 1:19:00 AM)

    Absolutely love the thoughts you placed so gently in this poem.
    The other side of the coin so to speak. Am glad I found you here.
    Thank you for sharing your silent thoughts. RoseAnn
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/20/2013 2:06:00 PM)

    Dana, You are an unbelievable poet. So glad I found you on this site. Edwina Reizer (Report) Reply

  • (12/20/2013 2:05:00 PM)

    You are an unbelievable poet. Glad I found you on this site. Edwina Reizer (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: kiss, remember, red, light, world

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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