National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Alan Dugan, Winner of the 1962 POETRY AWARD for POEMS

Alan Dugan read an acceptance poem instead of a speech

Voyage

Always getting ready to go out
but never leaving, I looked out
at the developments of the day
from morning up to noon and down,
as the year went down to January,
the pit of the year, and then came up
again. “To take off,” I said,
“Always to leave,” mis-quoting Guillén,*
but I stayed in my paces and room
always getting ready to go out
but never leaving. Ah how I worked
for twenty years to send word out
to the day about my situation. Then
it sent back steamship tickets and
a hammer of images forged by deaths
and the idea of death, the cash savior.
“I have broken through,” I said
to the window for the last time,
and walked out on to the ocean and
Europe for an outside view of home.

* Editor’s Note: Dugan refers to Jorge Guillén, the Spanish poet, some of whose work he translated.