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About this poet

Kay Boyle, born February 19, 1902, was a fiction writer and political activist. She is the author of Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (Copper Canyon Press, 1991); This Is Not a Letter, and Other Poems (Sun and Moon Press, 1985); and Testament for My Students, and Other Poems (Doubleday, 1970). Her honors included the Before Columbus Foundation Award, the 1989 Lannan Literary Award, and two Guggenheim Fellowships, among many others. She died on December 27, 1992, in Mill Valley, California.

Monody to the Sound of Zithers

I have wanted other things more than lovers …	
I have desired peace, intimately to know	
The secret curves of deep-bosomed contentment,	
To learn by heart things beautiful and slow.	
 
Cities at night, and cloudful skies, I’ve wanted;
And open cottage doors, old colors and smells a part;	
All dim things, layers of river-mist on river—	
To capture Beauty’s hands and lay them on my heart.	
 
I have wanted clean rain to kiss my eyelids,	
Sea-spray and silver foam to kiss my mouth.
I have wanted strong winds to flay me with passion;	
And, to soothe me, tired winds from the south.	
 
These things have I wanted more than lovers …	
Jewels in my hands, and dew on morning grass—	
Familiar things, while lovers have been strangers.
Friended thus, I have let nothing pass.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle, born February 19, 1902, was a fiction writer and political activist. She is the author of Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (Copper Canyon Press, 1991); This Is Not a Letter, and Other Poems (Sun and Moon Press, 1985); and Testament for My Students, and Other Poems (Doubleday, 1970). Her honors included the Before Columbus Foundation Award, the 1989 Lannan Literary Award, and two Guggenheim Fellowships, among many others. She died on December 27, 1992, in Mill Valley, California.