The pub overflows—

TV football, Thanksgiving

cheer. I leave early.

I’m full of doubts. This

is my country too, awful

as it is. I reach

the other country.

Herringbone lights at full tide.

Two mute swans floating.

The silence broken

by those two calling. I’m dumbstruck,

but it saves the day.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

One thought on “NEAR PROVIDENCE 20.11.21”

  1. ‘But it saves the day’. This reflection on the tension of the poet’s two countries–patriotic narcissism and human and natural beauty– turns on the surprise of the adversative conjunction ‘but’. The swans’ call leaves the poet speechless. We expect a correlation between the peot’s response and the saving impact of the swans’ affectionate communcation but instead the poem resists the reduction to the ego by opening our view as readers onto the surprise of the contrast between the poet’s mutness and the swans’ noisy and loving communication — and not just the contrast but also the correlation. In the poet being rendered speechless by theswans we find an answer to the tension of the two worlds, an answer as the act of deliberate contemplation.


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