A Singing Voice

I just came across a poem called A Singing Voice by Kenneth Rexroth. It’s not the first time I’ve read it, but it’s been years, I believe, since I last did so. I recall the very first time I read this poem; I got goosebumps and experienced an extremely strong sense of nostalgia. I may have teared. In this last reading I realise none of its initial potency was lost.

A little over three years ago, this poem led me to the purchase of the book that contained it (called Good Poems for Hard Times, a collection of poems selected by Garrison Keillor — an absolutely magnificent collection). Haven’t regretted that decision.

Here it is, because I believe it’s too good not to be shared.

Once, camping on a high bluff
Above the Fox River, when
I was about fourteen years
Old, on a full moonlit night
Crowded with whippoorwills and
Frogs, I lay awake long past
Midnight watching the moon move
Through the half drowned stars. Suddenly
I heard, far away on the warm
Air a high clear soprano,
Purer than the purest boy’s
Voice, singing, “Tuck me to sleep
In my old ‘Tucky home.”
She was in an open car
Speeding along the winding
Dipping highway beneath me.
A few seconds later
An old touring car full of
Boys and girls rushed by under
Me, the soprano rising
Full and clear and now close by
I could hear the others singing
Softly behind her voice. Then
Rising and falling with the
Twisting road the song closed, soft
In the night. Over thirty
Years have gone by but I have
Never forgotten. Again
And again, driving on a
Lonely moonlit road, or waking
In a warm murmurous night,
I hear that voice singing that
Common song like an
Angelic memory.

3 thoughts on “A Singing Voice

  1. Hey,just read your article about losing the chinese culture. feeling a little weird. actually, i guess it’s a little not happy for that. but from that, i can tell that as a singaporean, what you are thinking about being a chinese.
    by the way, this is cozy from shanghai. kind of like stuff about singapore and those culture mixed with locals.
    nice to meet you :)

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