Published on Academy of American Poets (

from “Surge”

A long night I spent
thinking that reality was the story
of the human species


the vanquished search for the vanquished


Sounds come by, ruffling my soul


I sense space’s elasticity,
go on reading the books she wrote on the
wars she’s seen


Why do seasons who regularly follow
their appointed time, deny their kind of energy
to us?


why is winter followed by a few
more days of winter?


We came to transmit the shimmering
from which we came; to name it


we deal with a permanent voyage,
the becoming of that which itself had


Copyright © 2017 by Etel Adnan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.


About this Poem

“Where did the poem ‘Surge’ come from? A thought happens to the mind, and it becomes a line of poetry. Why this and not other thoughts, we’ll never know; let’s keep mysteries a mystery. But that line has a particular rhythm, an original one, and an energy, an enormous one, that pushes us ahead. We usually don’t know where we're going, that’s why we keep going. That first line is similar to the currents of air that birds find and follow. They sail on that particular current, they follow its course, they trust it, and go. So this is how you find yourself engaged in a new adventure, a spiritual journey, a search if you want, where what you search is not already there, but established as you go along.”
—Etel Adnan


Etel Adnan

Etel Adnan was born in 1925. She authored more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, and essays. 

Date Published: 2017-12-28

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