This amber sunstream, with an hour to live,
Flows carelessly, and does not save itself;
Nor recognizes any entered room—
This room; nor hears the clock upon a shelf,
Declaring the lone hour; for where it goes
All space in a great silence ever flows.
No living man may know it till this hour,
When the clear sunstream, thickening to amber,
Moves like a sea, and the sunk hulls of houses
Let it come slowly through, as divers clamber,
Feeling for gold. So now into this room
Peer the large eyes, unopen to their doom.
Another hour and nothing will be here.
Even upon themselves the eyes will close.
Nor will this bulk, withdrawing, die outdoors
In night, that from another silence flows.
No living man in any western room
But sits at amber sunset round a tomb.
“I have loved Mark Van Doren’s poetry all my life, or for thirty years. He was the first modern poet I seriously read, and I have never recovered, or tried to recover . . . . Among his splendors are the violent ‘Winter Tryst’ and the pensive ‘This Amber Sunstream,’ but under his hand the needs and fears are the same. Like that’s writing, man!” – John Berryman
You can listen to Van Doren read his poetry here.