Monday, October 21, 2019

Autumn Poems - James Wright

Two more autumn poems.
From the book The Branch Will Not Break (1963).

They can also be found in his collected poems,  Above the River.

I believe his poems, starting in the sixties, were sometimes referred to as “pastoral surrealism.” He was very influenced by some of the poets he translated (César Vallejo and Georg Trakl, most notably).

Reading some of the poems in this book is like seeing something at the corner of the eye as you’re getting into your car in the morning – a figure, a figure that wants to know you for some reason – then turning, you see a tree, a juniper, all the blue berries bright and strange, like curious eyes. You start the car, pull into the street, puzzled and grateful at the same time…


The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe.
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.


While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At a touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.

James Wright (1927-1980)

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