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 which union organizers were vigorously excluded and sometimes removed; drunken violence was a daily and nigh ...
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 matter upon sense
Destroys me momently. The score:
There comes what will come. The expense
Is what one thought, and something more-
One's being and intelligence.
This is the terminal, the break.
Beyond this point, on lines of air,
You take the way that you must take;
And I remain in light and stare-
In light, and nothing else, awake.