Nightwatch and Dayshift

30Nightwatch and Dayshift
William Irwin Thompson

nwds-frontcover4 - CopyPraise for William Irwin Thompson

“This is an abundant, powerful book. Much of its power flows from Thompson’s increasing ability to read images, a complicated process. Scholars and thinkers over the last 70 years have slowly rediscovered the stages of this lost ability; and in this book William Irwin Thompson climbs one more step.” –Robert Bly   The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light

This work, by a writer who has both diagnosed and altered the intellectual culture of our age, asks to be shelved near its familial forebears: Lucretius, Dante, Charles Olson. –Jane Hirshfield
Still Travels: Three Long Poems

william_irwin_thompson - CopyI first caught fire in high school and burned with an embarrassing adolescent passion for poetry through the works of Lao Tze and Dylan Thomas; and then, as a sophomore, in college for Gerard Manly Hopkins, T. S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, and the octosyllabic ballad meditations on place of Frederico Garcia Lorca and Kenneth Rexroth. In the fifties, Rexroth’s The Phoenix and the Tortoise meant far more to me than Ginsberg and the Beats. Now, after having written poetry for sixty years, I can see that I am still held in thrall by the Romantic genre of poems of description and meditation. But instead of trying to be a Wordsworth inscribing his poem into the living rock in the Lakes Country, I have tried to win the right to exist by writing myself into the place I happen to be. In this book I have tried to inhabit Portland, Maine through street poems, as before in A Diary of Sorts and Streets (2006) I did with Zurich, New York, Toronto, and Cambridge. But as a wanderer, I am not a native to any place, so the other Goethean twin soul in me has felt a pull into a solitary and mystical companionship with the stars. A Portland Calendar marks my temporary location, but Nightwatch pulls me up and out of my shallow rootedness. I stop–whether I am in the mountains in Crestone, Colorado or looking out of my apartment window in Portland–to see the Pleiades, and realize that at the intersection of time and eternity the light has changed.
William Irwin Thompson