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Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.

(After Rilke)

—Dana Gioia

from Interrogations at Noon, 2001
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, MN

Copyright 2001 by Dana Gioia.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press from Interrogations at Noon, 2001. Copyright 2001 by Dana Gioia. For further permissions information, contact Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave. Ste. 203, St Paul, MN 55114.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Dana Gioia (1950- ) served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2008. The author of the seminal essay “Can Poetry Matter?”, Gioia has published four poetry collections, including Pity the Beautiful (Graywolf Press, 2012).

Learn more about Dana Gioia at The Poetry Foundation.