I greatly enjoy the poetry of Andrew O. Dugas. Today, I found this lovely memorial tribute on Haiku Andy’s twitter feed to poet Galway Kinnell. I had not heard of his passing until now. Thank you, Andy, for commemorating Galway Kinnell’s life and work with a haiku.

 Oct 30  20141029

“the great poet’s death —/

in a high mountain valley/

I once shook his hand”


Poetry Tribute to Galway Kennell 2014 Dugas haiku
Haiku Andy also blogs his poetry here: http://haikuandy.com

In memory, I am sharing my two favorite poems by Galway Kinnell.

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry — eating in late September. 

Galway Kinnell

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak

The man splitting wood in the daybreak 
looks strong, as though, if one weakened, 
one could turn to him and he would help. 
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood 
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel 
through the air so hard the hard maple 
leapt apart, as it’s feared marriages will do 
in countries reluctant to permit divorce, 
and even willow, which, though stacked 
to dry a full year, on being split
actually weeps—totem wood, therefore, 
to the married-until-death—sunders 
with many little lip-wetting gasp-noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers, 
but they help us only by the unperplexed 
looking-back of the numerals cut into headstones. 
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated, 
can’t, even in spring, break through the hard earth. 
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do. 
We have to hold our children up to lean on them. 
Everyone who could help goes or hasn’t arrived. 
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak, 
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me. 

Galway Kinnell

You can hear recordings of Galway Kinnell reading some of his own poems at the eponymous website Galway Kinnell: http://galwaykinnell.com

He reads: Oatmeal, First Song, The River That is East, Middle of the Way, The Fossils, Going Home By Last Light, A Night in the Ruins, and After Making Love We Hear Footsteps

He reads: The Essential Rilke, Imperfect thirst, Poems: body rags : mortal acts, mortal words -the past, When one has lived a long time alone, The avenue bearing the initial of Christ into the New World 1946-1964,  The book of nightmares.

I hope you explore his poetry, so that you will have memories of this American poet’s fine art words too.


8 thoughts on “Remembering Poet: Galway Kinnell

    1. I like that poem too. I like having the recording to hear it the way the poet reads it. I like the humor.

      Bonus joke… Want to hear something warm and mushy? — “Oatmeal!”

      (I favor Cream of Wheat or Wheatena on a chippy fall morning, but I agree with what he said about oatmeal breakfasts and imaginary friends.)

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