Poem of the Day: “At Night the States” by Alice Notley


“At Night the States” is a famous poem that, whether you have or haven’t heard it before, strikes you over the head repeatedly. Formally inventive without any loss in the depth of its feeling, Notley transcends the genre of elegy to an expression of grief that might register unmediated: it is a present poem, an immediate poem, an inconsolable poem. It is also beautiful, and Notley’s reading of it here is given with a sincerity and confidence that never betrays the content—one can lose (and at least one has lost) hours to it.



At night the states
I forget them or I wish I was there
          in that one under the
Stars. It smells like June in this night
          so sweet like air.
I may have decided that the
          States are not that tired
Or I have thought so. I have
          thought that.


Find the poem in its entirety and listen to Notley give a reading of it over at The Poetry Foundation.

Kyle Williams is a student at Brooklyn College, studying creative writing and literature. You can find more from him on Tumblr at kaywhyelleee.tumblr.com, but don't feel like you have to. More from this author →