By Philip Levine
The muse for the identify poem of Philip Levine's A stroll with Tom Jefferson is now not the founding father and 3rd president of the U.S. that the majority readers could think upon listening to the identify. Levine's Tom Jefferson is sort of diversified from his namesake: he's an African American dwelling in a destitute zone of commercial Detroit. yet to Levine, he's "wise, compassionate, planned, honest...a nice unknown American." In A stroll with Tom Jefferson, Philip Levine reminds us why he's top identified for his poems approximately working-class existence in Detroit--and why such a lot of humans count number a Levine poem between their favorites.
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I And what will replace me in this place? Space But if that’s true then what can matter? Matter But how did I get from that to this? Miraculous Random swirl of particles That chills And burns in an ever-changing state Indeterminate 38 In every way but in the making Unmaking Of what it is, then isn’t, here Or there In each unlikely curl and angle— Angel Of no thought thinking itself through us, Dust We cling to, kill for, deplore or yearn, Urn Of nothing and to nothing prey— Pray For something more than bleak repose That knows Not much given to us to trust to Must do.
Suburban Homer, not suburban hero, all I can tell of it now is night and walking into and out of dark between the halos of streetlights down a dark-bright avenue. Where was I going, furious and afraid, hurrying from what had happened, which, because I could not say it, wouldn’t stop happening inside me, like some undeserved but longed for violence or violation I needed to get out of myself so as to quiet the total infant hunger of the sound of it inside me screaming to get out? The solace I was after was an afterlife, humiliations of the body burned away in the fiery headlights to a name on every grief struck tongue inside a house my absence fills more than my presence could, each one repeating versions of what now they tell themselves they should have seen the signs of all along, imagining (if they had) the many ways they would have loved me better.
39 Two Homeric Turns 1. Consider it all as two songs, ours and theirs, And theirs composed of one high note, too high For us to hear, and played so constantly, so Uninterruptedly that they themselves No longer hear it, if they ever could. And ours, its crooked passage up and down The scale of feeling, unforeseen and fated, Note vanishing as soon as played, and played By vanishing into the song it is— How could it not astound them, air, just air Resisting air, inflected with the sound Of never-enough, and too-soon, and if-only— Brief shapes of air between the silences Only the song articulates by breaking.
A Walk with Jefferson by Philip Levine