Nox Borealis

By Campbell McGrath b. 1962 Campbell McGrath
If Socrates drank his portion of hemlock willingly,
if the Appalachians have endured unending ages of erosion,
if the wind can learn to read our minds
and moonlight moonlight as a master pickpocket,
surely we can contend with contentment as our commission.

Deer in a stubble field, small birds dreaming
unimaginable dreams in hollow trees,
even the icicles, darling, even the icicles shame us
with their stoicism, their radiant resolve.

Listen to me now: think of something you love
but not too dearly, so the night will steal from us
only what we can afford to lose.

Source: Poetry (October 2012).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2012
 Campbell  McGrath

Biography

Born in Chicago to Irish-Catholic parents, McGrath earned his BA from the University of Chicago and MFA from Columbia University. Influenced by Walt Whitman, James Wright, Sylvia Plath, and Rainer Maria Rilke, McGrath writes predominantly free-verse, long-lined, documentary poems deeply engaged with American popular culture and commerce. A master of the long poem, he has also written many prose poems as well as shorter lyrics.

. . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Nature, Animals, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.