Hayden Carruth is a poet with a very extensive body of work, and I have to admit that I have barely scratched its surface. My curiosity was piqued when I read a remark by Wendell Berry praising Carruth. Though my explorations of his poetry have been limited, I have enjoyed what I have read very much. I love its earthiness- there is also a good deal of humor and seasoned humanity in it. Carruth is a New Englander, and many of his poems reflect his years in Northern Vermont. The following poem caught my eye immediately because it references Wang Wei, one of China's greatest poets. I have read and re-read this one many times. If you are not familliar with Carruth, I hope this will pique your curiousity too.

Twilight Comes

After Wang Wei


Twilight comes to the little farm

At winter's end. The snowbanks

High as the eaves, which melted

And became pitted during the day,

Are freezing again, and crunch

Under the dog's foot. The mountains

From their place behind our shoulders

Lean close a moment, as if for a

Final inspection, but with kindness,

A benediction as the darkness

Falls. It is my fiftieth year, Stars

Come out, one by one with a softer

Brightness, like the first flowers

Of spring. I hear the brook stirring,

Trying its music under the ice.

I hear - almost, I am not certain -

Remote tinklings; perhaps sheepbells

On the green side of a juniper hill

Or wineglasses on a summer night.

But no, My wife is at her work,

There behind yellow windows. Supper

Will be soon. I crunch the icy snow

And tilt my head to study the last

Silvery light of the western sky

In the pine boughs. Then

I smile again, just because I can.

I am not an old man. Not yet.


- Hayden Carruth



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