Friday, July 29, 2005

A Salute to Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz is considered by many to be America's greatest living poet. Today, July 29, 2005 he turned 100. If you go to NPR , you can hear him read this poem. This poem is truly superb.
Kunitz explains before he reads that a long boat is a boat of the ancient Vikings for which the body of a fallen hero was pushed out to sea for an eternity to drift.

The Long Boat

When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
that caring.
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
endlessly drifting.
Peace! Peace!
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn't matter
which way was home;
as if he didn't know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely and moving poem.

Anonymous said...

Stanley Kunitz is a garden hero of mine. I love his book, "The Wild Braid". He is remarkable. Thank you for reminding us of him.