The Mnemosyne Weekly: Poem Nineteen (Valentine)


Original Post:

Jean Valentine


Join me this week for a journey into Jean Valentine’s Home Deep Blue to memorize the poem “Night.” I read this piece for the first time just a few days ago and was awestruck by it. The first two lines and the last line, in particular, render me captive of the moment, delightfully bound to the girl, the poet, the train–to the sticky, crooked wonder of it all.

If you’re not familiar with, Jean Valentine, she has published eleven collections of poetry, won numerous awards, and taught at several colleges and universities, including Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, and Columbia University.

Of her poetry, Adrienne Rich says, “Looking into a Jean Valentine poem is like looking into a lake: you can see your own outline, and the shapes of the upper world, reflected among rocks, underwater life, glint of lost bottles, drifted leaves. The known and familiar become one with the mysterious and half-wild, at the place where consciousness and the subliminal meet. This is a poetry of the highest order, because it lets us into spaces and meanings we couldn’t approach in any other way.”

If you’re new to the blog, you might want to look at the first Mnemosyne Post to find out what this project is all about.




From this night on God let me eat

like that blind child on the train

touching her yogurt as I’d touch a spiderweb

the first morning in the country–sky red–

holding the carton and spoon to her mouth

with all her eyeless body, and then

orientally resting, the whole time smiling


a little to one side of straight ahead.

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