“The Artist” by Stanley Kunitz

This is not a poetry blog, though from time to time I like to post poems or poetry-related matters. In this instance, I’m posting this poem by Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) because I can’t find it anywhere online. Now, hopefully, if someone is searching for it they will find it. More of his poetry can be read here, or in his Collected Poems.
Painting by Rothko
His paintings grew darker every year.
They filled the walls, they filled the room;
eventually they filled his world –
all but the ravishment.
When voices faded, he would rush to hear
the scratched soul of Mozart
endlessly in gyre.
Back and forth, back and forth,
he paced the paint-smeared floor,
diminishing in size each time he turned,
trapped in his monumental void,
raving against his adversaries.
At last he took a knife in his hand
and slashed an exit for himself
between the frames of his tall scenery.
Through the holes of his tattered universe
the first innocence and the light
came pouring in.
(from The Collected Poems, Norton 2000)

2 thoughts on ““The Artist” by Stanley Kunitz

  1. Thanks for posting Kunitz “The Artist”–just what I was looking for this morning, as it can jar some of the artists of The ArtWalk in Prince Frederick, Calvert County, down in Southern Maryland. They have invited me to do a book signing at the lively little CalvArt Gallery on Saturday, though I am not an artist but a writer/poet . (www.elisavietta.com) I also have a a number of poems in the voices of artists or their wives, mistresses and models.
    I used to see Stanley Kunitz often when he was the Poetry Consultant (later called Poet Laureate) at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, and in my heart he was–the closest thing to God.

    Enjoy Italy–

    Elisavietta Ritchie

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