At the New Year

By Kenneth Patchen 1911–1972 Kenneth Patchen
In the shape of this night, in the still fall
        of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
        and children
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
        and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
        of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
        where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
        out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
        mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
        where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
        of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
        has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
        turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father
Other bells that we would ring.

Kenneth Patchen, “At the New Year” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1939 by Kenneth Patchen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Collected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1939)

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Poet Kenneth Patchen 1911–1972

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Relationships, Nature, Winter, Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Kenneth  Patchen

Biography

Largely a self-taught writer, Kenneth Patchen never appeared to win widespread recognition from the professors at universities or many literary critics. As the New York Times Book Review noted, "While some critics tended to dismiss his work as naive, romantic, capricious and concerned often with the social problems of the 1930's, others found him a major voice in American poetry.... Even the most generous praise was usually . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Nature, Winter, Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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