Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

A Sleepless Night


April, and the last of the plum blossoms
scatters on the black grass
before dawn. The sycamore, the lime,
the struck pine inhale
the first pale hints of sky.
An iron day,
I think, yet it will come
dazzling, the light
rise from the belly of leaves and pour
burning from the cups
of poppies.
The mockingbird squawks
from his perch, fidgets,
and settles back. The snail, awake
for good, trembles from his shell
and sets sail for China. My hand dances
in the memory of a million vanished stars.

A man has every place to lay his head.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
# 483 poem on top 500 Poems


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Comments about this poem (A Sleepless Night by Philip Levine )

  • Freshman - 1,635 Points Smoky Hoss (2/16/2015 7:19:00 PM)

    A Sleepless Night seems as a metaphor for the long night of winter, itself a metaphor for the darkness of life; spring has finally come, it's good to be alive, and because man is alive he can lay his head anywhere, but of course this freedom of living came at a price: a million vanished stars, now only a memory. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Portia Burton (10/20/2013 5:32:00 AM)

    wonderful poem!
    -Portia (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Robbert Veen (6/26/2010 8:25:00 PM)

    I agree with G. Murdock. Yet, there is something quite intriguing about the last line. It does bring to mind the NT quote: The Son of Man has no place to rest his head. Does that change the meaning? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points G. Murdock (12/6/2005 10:38:00 PM)

    good overall, not in a particular way...not a line which is exceptional. More like a fine car is made of many ordinary parts. (Report) Reply

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