Phillis Levin

In a Valley & Theorems of Reason
January 24, 2019 Levin Phillis

Theorems of Reason


Hello to the theorems of reason, hidden

For so many years. How good to see them

Ready already to make trouble,

Bounce against the wall of each belief, level

Their aim at anything they mean to conquer.

Do you think you’ll escape their rancor,

Or have you been practicing so hard

Nothing they say can cancel your parade?


Steel yourself for the next charade,

Contortions, clichés, incoherent banter,

Ideas betrayed, failing to pay rent or

Sell themselves on an open market: bubble

After bubble iridescent over rubble

Only the gold of the moon may redeem.



In a Valley   


Grief freely flowing,

Like water down a mountain

From a glacier feeding


A brook snow-bound,

Like song unbroken.

Blood in a channel going


Back to a heart borne back

To the heart of a mountain,

Back to the bank, to the bed.

Phillis Levin has work forthcoming in The Atlantic and Kenyon Review. Her newest book, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the author of four other poetry collections, Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), and May Day (Penguin, 2008), and is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (2001). Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in New York and currently is a professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University.