English poetry

Poems in English

The Layers

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
Some of them my own,
And I am not who I was,
Though some principle of being
Abides, from which I struggle
Not to stray.
When I look behind,
As I am compelled to look
Before I can gather strength
To proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
Toward the horizon
And the slow fires trailing
From the abandoned camp-sites,
Over which scavenger angels
Wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
Out of my true affections,
And my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
To its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
The manic dust of my friends,
Those who fell along the way,
Bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
Exulting somewhat,
With my will intact to go
Wherever I need to go,
And every stone on the road
Precious to me.
In my darkest night,
When the moon was covered
And I roamed through wreckage,
A nimbus-clouded voice
Directed me:
“Live in the layers,
Not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
To decipher it,
No doubt the next chapter
In my book of transformations
Is already written.
I am not done with my changes.



Poem The Layers - Stanley Kunitz
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