By Carolyn Kizer 1925–2014 Carolyn Kizer
The poets are going home now,
After the years of exile,
After the northern climates
Where they worked, lectured, remembered,
Where they shivered at night
In an indifferent world.
Where God was the god of business,
And men would violate the poets’ moon,
And even the heavens become zones of war.
The poets are going home
To the blood-haunted villages,
To the crumbling walls, still pocked
With a spray of bullets;
To the ravine, marked with a new cross,
Where their brother died.
No one knows the precise spot where they shot him,
But there is a place now to gather, to lay wreaths.
The poets will bring flowers.
The poets are coming home
To the cafés, to the life of the streets at twilight,
To slip among the crowds and greet their friends;
Thee young poets, old now, limping, who lean on a cane:
Or the arm of a grandchild, peer with opaque eyes
At the frightening city, the steel and concrete towers
Sprung up in their absence.
Yet from open doorways comes the odor of grapes
Fermented, of fish, of oil, of pimiento…
The poets have come home
To the melodious language
That settles in their heads like moths alighting,
This language for which they starved
In a world of gutturals,
Crude monosyllables barked by strangers.
Now their own language enfolds them
With its warm vocables.
The poets are home.
Yes, they have come back
To look up at the yellow moon,
Cousin of that cold orb that only reflected
Their isolation.
They have returned to the olives, the light,
The sage-scented meadows,
The whitewashed steps, the tubs of geraniums,
The sere plains, the riverbanks spread with laundry,
The poppies, the vineyards, the bones of mountains.
Yes, poets, welcome home
To your small country
Riven by its little war
(As the world measures these events),
A country that remembers heroes and tears;
Where, in your absence, souls kept themselves alive
By whispering your words.
Now you smile at everything, even the priests, the militia,
The patient earth that is waiting to receive you.

Carolyn Kizer, "Ingathering" from Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Kizer.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, .P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA  98368-0271,

Source: Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)

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Poet Carolyn Kizer 1925–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

 Carolyn  Kizer


Poet, essayist, and translator Carolyn Kizer was born in 1925 in Spokane, Washington. Raised by a prominent lawyer and highly educated mother, Kizer’s childhood was suffused with poetry. Of her development as a poet, she noted to the Poetry Society of America: “My parents were both romantics: father favored the poems of Keats; mother went for Whitman. No evening of my childhood passed without my being read to. But I think my . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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