By Stanley Plumly b. 1939 Stanley Plumly
In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.

Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre)—which is purer being?

Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.

Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough—one pure, one impure being.

Clouds, snow, mist, the dragon's breath on water,
smoke from fire—a metaphor's pure being.

Stillness and more stillness and the light locked
deep inside—both pure and impure being.

Is is the verb of being, I the noun—
or pronoun for the purists of being.

I was, I am, I looked within and saw
nothing very clearly: purest being.

Source: Poetry (May 1999).


This poem originally appeared in the May 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

May 1999
 Stanley  Plumly


Poet Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, and grew up in the lumber and farming regions of Virginia and Ohio. His father was a lumberjack and welder who died at age fifty-six of a heart attack linked to his alcoholism. Plumly’s parents, and his working-class upbringing, figure frequently in his work, especially his early books. Plumly was educated at Wilmington College, a Quaker school in Ohio, and Ohio University, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Allusion, Ghazal

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