Saturday, January 2, 2010
“Crossing on Staten Island Ferry”
For the first Weekly Poem of the New Year I decided to post a piece by a favorite poet, & one who’s appeared several times on Robert Frost’s Banjo, Kenneth Patchen. Patchen’s humanity & lyricism , his emotional candor & his knack for the perfect, understated image are all on display in this work.
If you haven’t read much of Kenneth Patchen’s work, I’d encourage you to check out his poetry or his beautiful, poetic novel The Journal of Albion Moonlight. A search on Robert Frost’s Banjo will take you to several more poems, & there are some good dedicated Patchen poem sites online—you might try the Kenneth Patchen Home Page here, which not only has poems but also links to a number of other sites, as well as some bibliographical information & a biographical timeline.
In the meantime, hope you enjoy this poem, & hope everyone’s new year is off to a good start.
Crossing on Staten Island Ferry
I'd like to die like this...
with the dark fingers of the water
closing and unclosing over these sleepy lights
and a sad bell somewhere murmuring goodnight.
And a girl would stand beside me,
her hair lifted out like a hand against my face;
and I'd say "I'm going to die now."
And she'd answer "All the guns are still:
for men have learned to love one another."
Then a star would nose the water, like a weary gull
which had flown a long way and come at last to rest.
And, when I'd lift my face to look again on the God
I had found for myself
the girl would say "You're not going to die."
And she'd not mean me at all.