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PeoplePoetStanleyKunitzReadingTheLayers
PeoplePoetStanleyKunitzReadingTheLayers


 

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  • A. Overview:
  • Video of Stanley Kunitz reading "The Layers," his signature poem, in his West Village apartment in New York City on 2/20/2006. (Videotaped by Fran(k) Sisco. Copyright 2006 Frank Sisco)For more info, please contact fr
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  • Video of Stanley Kunitz reading "The Layers," his signature poem, in his West Village apartment in New York City on 2/20/2006.
    (Videotaped by Frank Sisco. Copyright 2006 Frank Sisco)
  • THE LAYERS by Stanley Kunitz

    I have walked through many lives,
    some of them my own,
    and I am not who I was,
    though some principle of being
    abides, from which I struggle
    not to stray.
    When I look behind,
    as I am compelled to look
    before I can gather strength
    to proceed on my journey,
    I see the milestones dwindling
    toward the horizon
    and the slow fires trailing
    from the abandoned camp-sites,
    over which scavenger angels
    wheel on heavy wings.
    Oh, I have made myself a tribe
    out of my true affections,
    and my tribe is scattered!
    How shall the heart be reconciled
    to its feast of losses?
    In a rising wind
    the manic dust of my friends,
    those who fell along the way,
    bitterly stings my face.
    Yet I turn, I turn,
    exulting somewhat,
    with my will intact to go
    wherever I need to go,
    and every stone on the road
    precious to me.
    In my darkest night,
    when the moon was covered
    and I roamed through wreckage,
    a nimbus-clouded voice
    directed me:
    "Live in the layers,
    not on the litter."
    Though I lack the art
    to decipher it,
    no doubt the next chapter
    in my book of transformations
    is already written.
    I am not done with my changes .


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