Kunitz’s Later Poems

Since I’ve already written about my favorite poem from the sections entitled “from The Layers” and “from Next to Last Things” in Kunitz’s Collected Poems, I chose to write about one of several poems that I also admire in this section, one that reminds why I continue to garden even though I’ve relocated to a much smaller home.

While I must admit that it’s vegetables, and not necessarily flowers, that I most love to tend, flowers have increasingly become an important part of my walking and hiking routine. For years now, Bill and I have timed our hikes to gain the best view of various flowers. Even here and Tacoma I’m anxiously awaiting spring so that I can see all of the rhododendrons in Pt Defiance come alive.

Strangely enough, the beautiful garden in front of my new house may well have been a deciding factor in choosing to buy my new house in Tacoma, that and the nearness to the park with its beautiful flora and fauna.


Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
“Light splashed. .

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

Around here right now it’s more likely to be rain splashing on the firs and ferns than sunshine, but my walk in Pt Defiane Park’s old growth forest each day motivates me to get up each morning. Experiencing nature’s beauty is such an integral part of my life that it’s hard to imagine what my life would be like without such beauty.

My walk usually takes precedence over my reading or writing. Like Kunitz, I have to shut myself away in order to write anything. No reading or writing while sunbathing for me. Given my choices, I would always choose experiencing nature and life directly over reading about it.

A more subtle reason for choosing this poem is that it somehow reminded me of Roethke’s “Once More, the Round,” though there’s little more than title to link them together, but it was one of Roethke’s last poems and ends, “And everything comes to One, /As we dance on, dance on, dance on.” Furthermore, Roethke, like Kunitz, had a great love of flowers and nature.