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NPR Arts and Life

'Lastness': Award-Winning Poet Galway Kinnell Dies At 87

RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: And now this. The poet Galway Kinnell has died. He began writing poetry at the end of World War II in a plain-spoken style some compared to Walt Whitman. In his long career, he won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here's Galway Kinnell reading from his poem called "Lastness."

(SOUNDBITE OF POEM, "LASTNESS")

GALWAY KINNELL: (Reading) A black bear sits alone in the twilight, nodding from side to side, turning slowly around and around on himself, scuffing the four-footed circle into the earth. He sniffs the sweat in the breeze. He understands a creature - a death creature - watches from the fringe of the trees. Finally he understands, I am no longer here. He, himself, from the fringe of the trees watches a black bear get up, eat a few flowers, trudge away, all his fur glistening in the rain.

GREENE: The voice of poet Galway Kinnell reading his poem "Lastness." He was 87 years old when he died Tuesday at home on his farm in Vermont. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.