At the San Francisco Airport

By Yvor Winters 1900–1968 Yvor Winters

To my daughter, 1954

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,
Contained 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.

Yvor Winters, “At the San Francisco Airport” from The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters, edited by R. L. Barth. Used by permission of Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio.

Source: The Collected Poems of Yvor Winters (1960)

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Poet Yvor Winters 1900–1968

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Parenthood, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Occasions Farewells & Good Luck

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Yvor  Winters

Biography

When Yvor Winters’s publisher and friend Alan Swallow hailed him in 1940 as the “sage of Palo Alto,” he accurately touched on the paradox of Winters’s career: the isolation in which he became admired as a poet, a teacher, and critic of poetry. For Winters, who adopted California early in his career as his permanent home, participated in the major poetic and critical movements of the 20th century—imagism, the expatriate . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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