Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users

Philip Levine: On The Meeting Of Garcia Lorca And Hart Crane

Brooklyn, 1929. Of course Crane’s 
been drinking and has no idea who 
this curious Andalusian is, unable 
even to speak the language of poetry. 
The young man who brought them 
together knows both Spanish and English, 
but he has a headache from jumping 
back and forth from one language 
to another. For a moment’s relief 
he goes to the window to look 
down on the East River, darkening 
below as the early night comes on. 
Something flashes across his sight, 
a double vision of such horror 
he has to slap both his hands across 
his mouth to keep from screaming. 
Let’s not be frivolous, let’s 
not pretend the two poets gave 
each other wisdom or love or 
even a good time, let’s not 
invent a dialogue of such eloquence 
that even the ants in your own 
house won’t forget it. The two 
greatest poetic geniuses alive 
meet, and what happens? A vision 
comes to an ordinary man staring 
at a filthy river. Have you ever 
had a vision? Have you ever shaken 
your head to pieces and jerked back 
at the image of your young son 
falling through open space, not 
from the stern of a ship bound 
from Vera Cruz to New York but from 
the roof of the building he works on? 
have you risen from bed to pace 
until dawn to beg a merciless god 
to take these pictures away? Oh, yes, 
let’s bless the imagination. It gives 
us the myths we live by. Let’s bless 
the visionary power of the human– 
the only animal that’s got it–, 
bless the exact image of your father 
dead and mine dead, bless the images 
that stalk the corners of our sight 
and will not let go. The young man 
was my cousin, Arthur Lieberman, 
then a language student at Columbia, 
who told me all this before he died 
quietly in his sleep in 1983 
in a hotel in Perugia. A good man, 
Arthur, he survived graduate school, 
later came home to Detroit and sold 
pianos right through the Depression. 
He loaned my brother a used one 
to compose his hideous songs on, 
which Arthur thought were genius. 
What an imagination Arthur had!


From The Internet Poetry Archive, sponsored by The University of North Carolina Press. Included in Vox Populi for noncommercial educational purposes only.

To listen to Philip Levine read this poem, as well as other poems of his, please click here.

2 comments on “Philip Levine: On The Meeting Of Garcia Lorca And Hart Crane

  1. allisonfine
    April 30, 2021

    A great poem from a great poet–Levine was a genius. This began my morning meditation and thus I am thankful for having this treasure in my in-box.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 12,188 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 4,344,493 hits

Archives

%d bloggers like this: