Light Night

By James Schuyler 1923–1991 James Schuyler
1

A tree, enamel needles,
owl takeoffs shake,
flapping a sound and smell
of underwing, like flags,
the clothy weight of flags.
A cone of silence stuck
with diamonds, the watch
she hunts, the frayed band
broke. It was a black night.
Dawn walked on it, the sun
set its heel. She won’t
find: a boundary of marsh,
the island in the wood.

               2

Stoop, dove, horrid maid,
spread your chiffon on our
wood rot breeding the
Destroying Angel, white,
lathe-shapely, trout-lily
lovely. Taste, and have it.

               3

In a rain-dusk dawn, the
clearing edge, the wood’s
fangs, the clear crystal
twist of a salival stream,
announce you hence. Tear
free of me, mountain, old
home bone, down sheer fear
tears mossed boulders
bound me, pool, deceptive,
trout-full, laugh and
chatter of finch and pecker,
gargle my liquor skin I
catch your face on. Scar
a look and leave. A rust
plush daycoach unfathers
me. A field of crosses. Let
iron clang iron.

James Schuyler, "Light Night" from Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems, edited by James Meetze and Simon Pettet, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by the Estate of James Schuyler. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry (November 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2009

Biography

Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Schuyler was a central member of the New York School.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent his teen years in East Aurora, New York, before attending Bethany College in West Virginia. During World War II, Schuyler served on a destroyer in the North Atlantic and remained in the US Navy until 1947. Before moving to New York in 1950, Schuyler lived for two years on the Isle of Ischia in Italy . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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