Listen. Put on Morning

By W. S. Graham 1918–1986
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.
A man’s imagining
Suddenly may inherit
The handclapping centuries
Of his one minute on earth.
And hear the virgin juries
Talk with his own breath
To the corner boys of his street.
And hear the Black Maria
Searching the town at night.
And hear the playropes caa
The sister Mary in.
And hear Willie and Davie
Among bracken of Narnain
Sing in a mist heavy
With myrtle and listeners.
And hear the higher town
Weep a petition of fears
At the poorhouse close upon
The public heartbeat.
And hear the children tig
And run with my own feet
Into the netting drag
Of a suiciding principle.
Listen. Put on lightbreak.
Waken into miracle.
The audience lies awake
Under the tenements
Under the sugar docks
Under the printed moments.
The centuries turn their locks
And open under the hill
Their inherited books and doors
All gathered to distil
Like happy berry pickers
One voice to talk to us.
Yes listen. It carries away
The second and the years
Till the heart’s in a jacket of snow
And the head’s in a helmet white
And the song sleeps to be wakened
By the morning ear bright.
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.

W. S. Graham, “Listen. Put on Morning” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1980 by W. S. Graham. Reprinted by permission of The Estate of W.S. Graham.

Source: Selected Poems (Ecco Press, 1980)

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Poet W. S. Graham 1918–1986


Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse


W. S. Graham was born to a working-class family in Scotland and grew up in Clydeside, where he worked as an engineer. He traveled to London and New York City, then returned to spend the rest of his adult life in Cornwall where his associates included many of the post-war British artists. Graham's first collection of poetry, Cage without Grievance, was published in 1942. It was followed by The Seven Journeys (1944), 2nd Poems . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Class


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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