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 is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; her other collections are May Day (Penguin, 2008), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), and Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988). She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001). Her honors include the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Poetry London, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York.