Another Life

By Howard Moss 1922–1987 Howard Moss
There might be the quibble of birds and the swag
Of a river and a distantly belled
Altar of animals, softly spoken;
Certainly cattail, sumac, and fern
Would rise from the marshes nearby, revealed
In forms too perfect to envy trees—
Not trying for larger and larger keepsakes.

Cryptic and subtle green, hedgerows
Hiding mysterious deer, the start
Of a rabbit, as if towers and clouds
Had suddenly shadowed an open field—
These would be the events of the day,
Life having narrowed down to please
Natural hungers and thirsts, the grass
Thick at our feet, and, above our heads,
The stars, their fireworks anemones.

What shall I say of the house? Or you?
Only industrious ghosts would know
How lazily cropping up the view
Would make the impossible possible;
Nothing but weekdays would blankly graze
On time’s oblivious pastures, free
At last of motive and thought, and we,
Becoming ourselves so naturally,
Would never say, looking up at the sky,
Another life is shining in the sky.

Howard Moss, “Another Life” from New Selected Poems, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1985 by Howard Moss. Reprinted by permission of Estate of Howard Moss.

Source: New Selected Poems (Atheneum Publishers, 1985)

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Poet Howard Moss 1922–1987

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Howard  Moss


Howard Moss was the poetry editor of the New Yorker for almost forty years. In that influential capacity, this quiet, unassuming man was one of the key figures in American letters in the late twentieth century, boosting the careers of many young poets by publishing their work in one of the few mass circulation magazines which bought poetry and paid well for it. Writing in World Literature Today, Ashley Brown observed that "it . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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