And a tenth part of Okeanos is given to dark night
a tithe of the pure water under earth
so that the clear fountains pour from rock face,
tears stream from the caverns and clefts,
down-running, carving woundrous ways in basalt resistance,
cutting deep as they go into layers of time-layerd
Gaia where She sleeps—
the cold water, the black rushing gleam, the
moving down-rush, wash, gush out over
bed-rock, toiling the boulders in flood,
purling in deeps, broad flashing in falls—
And a tenth part of bright clear Okeanos
his circulations— mists, rains, sheets, sheathes—
lies in poisonous depths, the black water.
Styx this carver of caverns beneath us is.
Styx this black water, this down-pouring.
The well is deep. From its stillness
the words our voices speak echo.
Resonance follows resonance.
Waves of this sounding come up to us.
We draw the black water, pure and cold.
The light of day is not as bright
as this crystal flowing.
Three thousand years we have recited its virtue
out of Hesiod.
Is it twenty-five thousand
since the ice withdrew from the lands and we
came forth from the realm of caverns where
the river beneath the earth we knew
we go back to.
Styx pouring down in the spring from its glacial remove,
from the black ice.
Fifty million years—from the beginning of what we are—
we knew the depth of this well to be.
Fifty million years deep —but our knowing deepens
this still water
we thirst for in dreams we dread.
Robert Duncan's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Styx by Robert Duncan )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
- Alone And Drinking Under The Moon, Li Po
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- A Visit from St. Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
Poem of the Day
- Hounds, Anuradha Bhattacharyya
- Decide and follow, hasmukh amathalal
- If luck ends, hasmukh amathalal
- Love grants, hasmukh amathalal
- Figure out, hasmukh amathalal
- For our crimes, hasmukh amathalal
- A Lone In The Jungle., Chinweokwu Sunlight M. Ndubu ..
- Hypnosis, Naveed Khalid
- Dancing with Santa, Kirti Gupta
- Welcome to Heaven, Tayyab Ijaz