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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Poetry Friday--Remembering Philip Levine

Several years ago, I was fortunate to have heard poet Philip Levine read from his work. I was taken by his down-to-earth character and the accessibility of his poetry. Levine passed away last Saturday. For today, I've selected a seasonal poem, which I find absolutely stunning.

Today the snow is drifting
on Belle Isle, and the ducks
are searching for some opening
to the filthy waters of the their river.
On Grand River Avenue, which is not
in Venice but in Detroit, Michigan,
the traffic has slowed to a standstill
and yet a sober man has hit a parked car
and swears to the police he was
not guilty. The bright squads of children
on their way to school howl
at the foolishness of the world
they will try not to inherit.
Seen from inside a window,
even a filthy one like those
at Automotive Supply Company, the snow,
which has been falling for hours,
is more beautiful than even the spring
grass which once unfurled here
before the invention of steel and fire,
for spring grass is what the earth sang
in answer to the new sun, to
melting snow, and the dark rain
of spring nights.

But snow is nothing.
It has no melody of form, it
is as though the tears of all
the lost souls rose to heaven
and were finally heard and blessed
with substance and the power of flight
and, given their choice, chose then
to return to earth, to lay their
great pale cheek against the burning
cheek of earth and say, "There, there, child."

I found the above online. We have two collections of Levine's work in 811.54 LEV, and his poems have been widely anthologized.

Head westward to the Poetry Friday Round-Up being hosted at Teacher Dance.


  1. Snow has no melody of form-such a beautiful line.

  2. Oh, that last stanza! "...the tears of all / the lost souls rose to heaven..." So lovely!

  3. Hi Carol and Linda! The second stanza is a work of genius.