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Light



Another drought morning after a too brief dawn downpour,
unaccountable silvery glitterings on the leaves of the withering maples—

I think of a troop of the blissful blessed approaching Dante,
"a hundred spheres shining," he rhapsodizes, "the purest pearls…"

then of the frightening brilliants myriad gleam in my lamp
of the eyes of the vast swarm of bats I found once in a cave,

a chamber whose walls seethed with a spaceless carpet of creatures,
their cacophonous, keen, insistent, incessant squeakings and squealings

churning the warm, rank, cloying air; of how one,
perfectly still among all the fitfully twitching others,

was looking straight at me, gazing solemnly, thoughtfully up
from beneath the intricate furl of its leathery wings

as though it couldn't believe I was there, or were trying to place me,
to situate me in the gnarl we'd evolved from, and now,

the trees still heartrendingly asparkle, Dante again,
this time the way he'll refer to a figure he meets as "the life of…"

not the soul, or person, the life, and once more the bat, and I,
our lives in that moment together, our lives, our lives,

his with no vision of celestial splendor, no poem,
mine with no flight, no unblundering dash through the dark,

his without realizing it would, so soon, no longer exist,
mine having to know for us both that everything ends,

world, after-world, even their memory, steamed away
like the film of uncertain vapor of the last of the luscious rain.
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Written on April 13, 1999

Submitted by Drone232 on April 07, 2022

1:23 min read
5

Quick analysis:

Scheme XA BX XX CA XC XX XX XX XX XX XX BX
Closest metre Iambic octameter
Characters 1,470
Words 275
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2

Charles Kenneth Williams

C. K. Williams (born Charles Kenneth Williams on November 4, 1936) is an American poet, critic and translator. Williams has won nearly every major poetry award. Flesh and Blood won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987. Repair (1999) won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The Singing won the National Book Award, 2003 and in 2005 Williams received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The 2012 film Tar related aspects of Williams' life using his poetry. C. K. Williams grew up in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood. He later briefly attended Bucknell University and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn he studied with the romantic scholar, Morse Peckham, and spent a great deal of time in the circle of young architects who studied with and worked for the great architect Louis Kahn. In an essay, “Beginnings,” he acknowledges Kahn’s dedication and patience as essential to his notion of the life of an artist. Williams lived for a period in Philadelphia, where he worked for a number of years as a part-time psychotherapist for adolescents and young adults, a ghost-writer and editor, then began teaching, first at the YM-YWHA in Philadelphia, then at several universities in Pennsylvania, Beaver College, Drexel, and Franklin and Marshall. He subsequently taught at many other universities, including Columbia, NYU, Boston University, the University of California, both at Irvine and Berkeley, before finally becoming a professor at George Mason University, then moving in 1995 to Princeton University, where he has taught poetry workshops and translation ever since. He met his present wife, Catherine Mauger, a French jeweler, in 1973, and they have a son who is now a noted painter, Jed Williams. He has a daughter from an earlier marriage, Jessie Williams Burns, who is a writer. He lives half the year near Princeton, and the rest in Normandy in France. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. more…

All Charles Kenneth Williams poems | Charles Kenneth Williams Books

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    "Light" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 27 Jan. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/123961/light>.

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