Speaking of sunsets,
last night’s was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren’t supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn’t natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn’t breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another’s eyes–
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Tate's poem Never Again The Same


  1. Roger Bly says:

    “And then the streetlights came on as always”

    That line has stuck in my head for years.
    After reading about 20+ thousand poems, it’s high on the list which is not even my own.

  2. john payne says:

    The use of language here to actually describe man’s relationship to a nature that exists beyond language is magical. Nature becomes un-natural. If perceived as the force that contains us but is not us the universe outside of language is virtually oppressive in its foreigness. I think Tate and Munch shared a moment.

  3. Waylon Joe says:

    I’ve seen many sunsets and this is the only poem That captures moments and feelings of those special unique settings, put together in way that makes you want to watch a sunset right now! to hopefully catch that once in a lifetime inner change sunset james speaks of.

  4. Forrest says:

    I’m not to big on poetry, but this is amazing.

  5. dave says:

    this poem affected me. I don’t have much sympathy for poets, or poetry. But I was touched.

  6. West says:

    thats awesome

  7. christophe says:

    This is just frickin brilliant, pandemonium of tangerines

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