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Patrick Lane


Those lights in the sky.
Little butterflies of the night,
little dreamers. Each time my lover
rises to walk in the early garden
I watch her from the window.
I cannot take my eyes from her.
See how she leans inside the dawn,
the cherry blossoms on her shoulders
as she touches the cat
who follows her everywhere, wanting
only to be with her 
among the dark mosses.
How much light there is
in the high window of the night.
How I wait, knowing, for now
she comes to me,
her small feet wet with dew, 
white as stars
in these last hours.

From Too Spare, Too Fierce (Harbour Publishing, 1995) and Selected Poems, 1977-1997.
Used here with the author’s permission.



Patrick Lane is one of Canada's pre-eminent poets, winner of numerous awards, including the Governor General's Award for Poetry, the Canadian Authors Association Award, the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence and three National Magazine Awards. His distinguished career spans forty-five years and twenty-four volumes of poetry as well as award-winning books of fiction and non-fiction. Patrick explored many jobs before committing to poetry, ranging from truck driver to building contractor; he became writer-in-residence at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1978 and has since held that position in numerous universities. Currently, his efforts are focused on teaching at writing workshops and retreates. Learn more about him at

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Posted 05/01/2015 06:07 AM
Lisa Shatzky:
He watches his lover as if she is one of the stars, knowing she will come to him...and even the cat follows her... What love, what light, what tenderness, what delirium this poem brings us.... Always, Patrick, you show us the music in the simple and small things. Always you urge us to pay attention. To breathe it all in. So we too may sing.
Posted 05/17/2011 03:47 PM
Cynthia Woodman Kerkham:
So tight. Not a word wasted. How this love poem encompasses the world in such a small space, moves the reader through the lighted universe to the dark moss and back again, connects the vastness of love with the smallest, musical, detail of love, “small feet wet with dew, white as stars”. And that evocative sense of temporality in “for now” and in that last line! A gem from a master poet!
Posted 05/16/2011 12:20 PM
Grace Cockburn:
And I love how, centered in the poem, is the image of “the cat/who follows her everywhere, wanting/only to be with her”—and then—“among the dark mosses.” With that additional phrase we are taken to a place of even deeper shade and softness and intimacy. Exquisite, and always so much to learn from Patrick’s work. Thank you, Patrick. Grace Cockburn
Posted 05/16/2011 10:47 AM
After reading this poem this morning, I looked out my window and saw a robin bouncing about on the ground, searching for worms after last night's rain. Without really thinking about it, I paraphrased a line from another famous Canadian poet: 'there's a poem in everything; it's how the light gets in'. Nobody is better at capturing the essence of a moment, with all its nuance and ambiguity, than Patrick.
Posted 05/16/2011 10:42 AM
Your astute ear and wise heart conjure exactly the language needed for this tender witness that love exists and sustains in an implacable world.--your poems continually teach me to dig down and pay attention at a new level. Thank you, Patrick--Wendy Donawa
Posted 05/16/2011 10:38 AM
wendy morton:
What makes a great poem? The words take us to a new place, a new way to see the world. Tonight, when I look at the sky I will see "the high window of the night" and watch for " the little butterflies of light, little dreamers."
Posted 05/16/2011 10:24 AM
pimmpost: What a gentle, delicate and beloved thing this poem is. Picking up on trailp(e)ony's 'dripping with rhyme' theme, I was caught by all the triple-clustered 'I' sounds: starting with 'light', 'butterflies' and 'night', then the second triple of 'I', 'I' and 'eyes', then 'light' 'high' and 'night', before finally "I', 'white' and a small sense of longing. To be able to place so much subtle love in the form and fabric of the poem, as well as in the more overt 'content' reveals an amazing and skilled touch: so much care and attention. Gorgeous. –– David, thriving in Banff
Posted 05/16/2011 10:18 AM
This poem appears to be unrhymed, free verse, but in fact is carefully constructed with rhymes and slant rhymes:dreamer, lover, shoulders, her; then another rhyme begins to take over in the poem: garden, dawn, blossoms, wanting, among;then, the third rhyme 'theme' enters, with night, wait, feet, white; and finally, back to the first rhyme motif with stars, hours. Like the musical masters, the poet master listens for the music above all else. As well, he creates tension by punctuating phrases as whole sentences, tightening the poem so that the smallest actions become substantial, of great weight. Look at every one of Patrick's poems. They all do stuff like this, every one. That's what a truly great poet does. I'm always awed by your work, Patrick; you set the bar so high, to practice the art of poetry under your example is the supreme challenge, one I'll work all my life to emulate. -- Pam Porter
Posted 05/16/2011 09:37 AM
barbara pelman:
How the simplest of words holds the most complex of emotions--the careful honing of language to convey love, beauty, tenderness: "My lover rises to walk in the early garden". So much to learn from you, Patrick, so much pleasure.
Posted 05/16/2011 09:32 AM
Its great to see you here to greet the morning. My feet were damp after reading this poem! "She leans inside the dawn...", a lovely surprise.
Posted 05/16/2011 09:31 AM
To learn, we study the masters. Every poem by Patrick Lane teaches me how a few words, precisely chosen, create the story not just inside the poem but beyond it as well. This is a love poem, tender. Two little words catch my breath, make me read the poem a second, a third time -- "for now."
Posted 05/16/2011 08:56 AM
Dear Patrick, You make little dreamers of us all with your beautiful words. Thank you for the gift of still believing in love. Heidi
Posted 05/16/2011 02:02 AM
Hi Patrick, This poem pays so close attention to delicate detail.what a beautiful love poem. Ah, "small feet wet with dew/white as stars" David Fraser
Posted 05/16/2011 01:20 AM

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