Gnomic Verses

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005 Robert Creeley

Down the road Up the hill Into the house
Over the wall Under the bed After the fact
By the way Out of the woods Behind the times
In front of the door Between the lines Along the path


In the way it was in the street   

it was in the back it was
in the house it was in the room
it was in the dark it was

fat fate

Be at That this
Come as If when   
Stay or Soon then   
Ever happen It will


Particular pleasures weather measures or   
Dimestore delights faced with such sights.


Outstretched innocence   
Implacable distance
Lend me a hand
See if it reaches


Of right Of wrong Of up Of down   
Of who Of how Of when Of one   
Of then Of if Of in Of out
Of feel Of friend Of it Of now


Now the inevitable   
As in tales of woe   
The inexorable toll   
It takes, it takes.


Head on backwards   
Face front neck’s
Pivot bunched flesh   
Drops jowled brunch.


Little bit patted pulled   
Stretched set let cool.


Whenas To for
If where From in
Past place Stated want   
Gain granted Planned or

have a heart

Have heart Find head   
Feel pattern Be wed   
Smell water See sand   
Oh boy Ain’t life grand

oh oh

Now and then   
Here and there   
On and on


Season’s upon us   
Weather alarms us   
Snow riot peace   
Leaves struck fist.


Let little Linda allow litigation
Foster faith’s fantasy famously
And answer all apt allegations
Handmake Harold’s homework handsomely


Passion’s particulars   
Steamy hands
Unwashed warmth   
One night stands

west acton summer

Cat’s rats, Mother’s brother   
Vacation’s patience, loud clouds   
Fields far, seize trees
School’s rules, friends tend   
Lawn’s form, barn’s beams   
Hay’s daze, swallows follow   
Sun’s sunk, moon mends   
Echo’s ending, begin again


“Far be it from Harry to alter the sense of drama inherent in the almighty tuxedo ...”

“Far be it from Harry”   
Sit next to Mary,
See how the Other   
Follows your Mother


Pat’s place
Pattern’s face   
Aberrant fact   
Changes that


Four’s forms
Back and forth
Feel way Hindside
Paper route Final chute


Indefatigably alert when hit still hurt.   
Whenever he significantly alters he falters.   
Wondrous weather murmured mother.   
Unforgettable twist in all such synthesis.   
Impeccably particular you always were.   
Laboriously enfeebled he still loved people.


Driving to the expected   
Place in mind in
Place of mind in
Driving to the expected


You have to reach   
Out more it’s
Farther away from   
You it’s here


Exoneration’s face
Echoed distaste
Privileged repetition   
Makeshift’s decision—


Now and then
Behind time’s
Emptied scene and   
Memory’s mistakes—


You are here   
And there too   
Being but one   
Of you—


All that’s left of coherence.

echo again

Statement keep talking
Train round bend over river into distance


Everything’s before you   
were here.

summer ’38

Nubble’s Light a sort   
of bump I thought—
a round insistent
small place

not like this—
it was a bluff,   
tip on the edge   
of the sea.


Lift up so you’re   
Floating out
Of your skin at
The edge but
Mostly up seeming   
Free of the ground.


Think of the
Dance you could do   
One legged man
Two legged woman.


Hard to be unaddressed—
Empty to reflection—
Take the road east—
Be where it is.


Sunrise always first—
That light—is it
Round the earth—what   
Simple mindedness.


It is
You are


Out there   
In here   
Now it is   
Was also


Up where   
It will be   
And down   


No one   
To it   

Robert Creeley, "Gnomic Verses" from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005. Copyright © 2006 by Robert Creeley.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005. (University of California Press, 2006)

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Poet Robert Creeley 1926–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Time & Brevity, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Living

 Robert  Creeley


Once known primarily for his association with the group called the “Black Mountain Poets,” at the time of his death in 2005, Robert Creeley was widely recognized as one of the most important and influential American poets of the twentieth century. His poetry is noted for both its concision and emotional power. Albert Mobilio, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, observed: “Creeley has shaped his own audience. The much . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

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