By Léonie Adams 1899–1988 Leonie Adams
This is the time lean woods shall spend
A steeped-up twilight, and the pale evening drink,   
And the perilous roe, the leaper to the west brink,   
Trembling and bright to the caverned cloud descend.

Now shall you see pent oak gone gusty and frantic,   
Stooped with dry weeping, ruinously unloosing   
The sparse disheveled leaf, or reared and tossing   
A dreary scarecrow bough in funeral antic.

Then, tatter you and rend,
Oak heart, to your profession mourning; not obscure   
The outcome, not crepuscular; on the deep floor   
Sable and gold match lustres and contend.

And rags of shrouding will not muffle the slain.
This is the immortal extinction, the priceless wound   
Not to be staunched. The live gold leaks beyond,   
And matter’s sanctified, dipped in a gold stain.

Léonie Adams, “Sundown” from Poems: A Selection (New York: The Noonday Press, 1959). Used by permission of Judith Farr, Literary Executrix of the Estate of Léonie Adams.

Source: Poems: A Selection (1959)

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Poet Léonie Adams 1899–1988

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza


An educator, consultant, editor, and poet, Leonie Adams was best known for her lyric poetry reminiscent of both the Romantic and Metaphysical periods. Her poetry won her several awards, including the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Bollingen Prize. She served in editorial capacities for both Wilson Publishing and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City during the 1920s and later taught . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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