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KUNITZ, Stanley


Night Letter (Excerpt)

Violence shakes my dreams; I am so cold,

Chilled by the persecuting wind abroad,

The oratory of the rodent's tooth,

The slaughter of the blue-eyed open towns,

And principle disgraced, and art denied.

My dear, is it too late for peace, too late

For men to gather at the wells to drink

The sweet water; too late for fellowship

and laughter at the forge; too late for us

To say, 'Let us be good to one another'?

The lamps go singly out; the valley sleeps;

I tend the last light shining on the farms

And keep for you the thought of love alive,

As scholars dungeoned in an ignorant age

Tended the embers of the Trojan fire.

Cities shall suffer siege and some shall fall,

But man's not taken. What the deep heart means,

Its message of the big, round, childish hand,

Its wonder, its simple lonely cry,

The bloodied envelope addressed to you,

Is history, that wide and mortal pang.