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"Your Birthday in the California Mountains," by Kenneth Rexroth

A broken moon on the cold water,

And wild geese crying high overhead,

The smoke of the campfire rises

Toward the geometry of heaven -

Points of light in the infinite blackness.

I watch across the narrow inlet

Your dark figure comes and goes before the fire.

A loon cries out on the night bound lake.

Then all the world is silent with the

Silence of autumn waiting for

The coming of winter. I enter

The ring of firelight, bringing to you

A string of trout for our dinner.

As we eat by the whispering lake,

I say, "Many years from now we will

Remember this night and talk of it."

Many years have gone by since then, and

Many years again. I remember

That night as though it was last night,

But you have been dead for thirty years.


Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was a major figure in American poetry and an important influence on the Beat Poets and the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s and '60s. A notable essayist and important translator from the Chinese and Japanese, he was a pacifist, a conscientious objector during World War II, and a zealous political progressive. Rexroth, who lived for many years in San Francisco and spent his later years in Santa Barbara, often celebrates in his poetry the grandeur of the California Coast Range. "Your Birthday in the California Mountains" was written in memory of Rexroth's first wife, the painter Andrée Schafer, whom he married in 1927 and who died in 1940. It is from The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, edited by Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow, published by Copper Canyon Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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The La Jolla fish named after Giuseppe Garibaldi

They totally ignore you and carry on nibbling like you’re just a piece of driftwood

A broken moon on the cold water,

And wild geese crying high overhead,

The smoke of the campfire rises

Toward the geometry of heaven -

Points of light in the infinite blackness.

I watch across the narrow inlet

Your dark figure comes and goes before the fire.

A loon cries out on the night bound lake.

Then all the world is silent with the

Silence of autumn waiting for

The coming of winter. I enter

The ring of firelight, bringing to you

A string of trout for our dinner.

As we eat by the whispering lake,

I say, "Many years from now we will

Remember this night and talk of it."

Many years have gone by since then, and

Many years again. I remember

That night as though it was last night,

But you have been dead for thirty years.


Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was a major figure in American poetry and an important influence on the Beat Poets and the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s and '60s. A notable essayist and important translator from the Chinese and Japanese, he was a pacifist, a conscientious objector during World War II, and a zealous political progressive. Rexroth, who lived for many years in San Francisco and spent his later years in Santa Barbara, often celebrates in his poetry the grandeur of the California Coast Range. "Your Birthday in the California Mountains" was written in memory of Rexroth's first wife, the painter Andrée Schafer, whom he married in 1927 and who died in 1940. It is from The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, edited by Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow, published by Copper Canyon Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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Comments
2

this sent an arrow thru my heart

for i was once the bound loving slave of an angler...who captured both tasty fish and me upon his magical hook...to pierce my memory forever

this is wonderful Kenneth...blessings to thee for this sharing ;-D

March 5, 2011

Everytime I come across this poem, it makes me think about MY window. It makes me appreciate wherever I am, that I still am. I feel as if he is so very close to her that he can feel the dirt trail under his feet and sense the clanging of his fish string. But she is alive in his memory only I wonder if he went back to the place he is remembering ,and wrote this poem with the ghosts of his past swirling around a ring of fire. Thirty years later and he laments her still. I'm just fascinated by his poem. Thanks for sharing this which allowed me to come across it once more

March 15, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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