Philip Levine (1928- )
Philip Levine est né à Detroit, dans le Michigan, en 1928. Il étudia dans des écoles locales et à la Wayne University. Il vit présentement à New York et à Fresno, en Californie, où il enseigne la littérature anglaise à l'Université de New York et à l'Université de Californie. Il a vécu périodiquement en Espagne, un pays dont le peuple, le paysage et l'histoire, ont beaucoup influencés ses poèmes.
Sa poésie est caractérisée par un lyrisme intense, un sens intériorisé du monde naturel (fréquemment invoqué à des fins symboliques), ainsi qu'une forte identification aux valeurs de la classe ouvrière et des communautés ethniques. On retrouve dans certains poèmes un ton de rage et de défi envers l'injustice.
Tiré de : The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English. Ed. Ian Hamilton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Oxford University Press.
Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine,
the yellowing ash, all the trees
are gone, and I was older than
all of them. I am older than the moon,
than the stars that fill my plate,
than the unseen planets that huddle
together here at the end of a year
no one wanted. A year more than a year,
in which the sparrows learned
to fly backwards into eternity.
Their brothers and sisters saw this
and refuse to build nests. Before
the week is over they will all
have gone, and the chorus of love
that filled my yard and spilled
into my kitchen each evening
will be gone. I will have to learn
to sing in the voices of pure joy
and pure pain. I will have to forget
my name, my childhood, the years
under the cold dominion of the clock
so that this voice, torn and cracked,
can reach the low hills that shielded
the orange trees once. I will stand
on the back porch as the cold
drifts in, and sing, not for joy,
not for love, not even to be heard.
I will sing so that the darkness
can take hold and whatever
is left, the fallen fruit, the last
leaf, the puzzled squirrel, the child
far from home, lost, will believe
this could be any night. That boy,
walking alone, thinking of nothing
or reciting his favorite names
to the moon and stars, let him
find the home he left this morning,
let him hear a prayer out
of the raging mouth of the wind.
Let him repeat that prayer,
the prayer that night follows day,
that life follows death, that in time
we find our lives. Don't let him see
all that has gone. Let him love
the darkness. Look, he's running
and singing too. He could be happy.
Philip Levine, 1971, tiré de Ashes : Poems New and Old (1979)
My father stands in the warm evening
on the porch of my first house.
I am four years old and growing tired.
I see his head among the stars,
the glow of his cigarette, redder
than the summer moon riding
low over the old neighborhood. We
are alone, and he asks me if I am happy.
"Are you happy?" I cannot answer.
I do not really understand the word,
and the voice, my father's voice, is not
his voice, but somehow thick and choked,
a voice I have not heard before, but
heard often since. He bends and passes
a thumb beneath each of my eyes.
The cigarette is gone, but I can smell
the tiredness than hangs on his breath.
He has found nothing, and he smiles
and holds my head with both his hands.
Then he lifts me to his shoulder,
and now I too am among the stars,
as tall as he. Are you happy? I say.
He nods in answer, Yes ! oh yes ! oh yes !
And in that new voice he says nothing,
holding my head tight against his head,
his eyes clsoed up against the starlight,
as though those tiny blinking eyes
of light might find a tall, gaunt child
holding his child against the promises
of autumn, until the boy slept
never to waken in that world again.
Philip Levine, tiré de New Selected Poems (1991)
- The Academy of American Poets - Philip Levine : http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=19
- Modern American Poetry - Philip Levine : http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/levine/levine.htm
Oeuvres poétiques :
- On The Edge (1963)
- Not This Pig (1968)
- Pili's Wall (1971)
- Red Dust (1971)
- The Feed They Lion (1972)
- 1933 (1974)
- The Names Of The Lost (1976)
- Ashes : Poems New And Old (1979)
- 7 Years From Somewhere (1979)
- One For The Rose (1981)
- Selected Poems (1984)
- Sweet Will (1985)
- A Walk With Tom Jefferson (1988)
- New Selected Poems (1991)
- What Work Is (1991)
- The Simple truth (1994)
- Unselected Poems (1997)
- The Mercy (1999)
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