Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems

by Ursula K. Le Guin

From a celebrated writer, a new and selected volume of poetry that spans fifty years of work. It includes some of the best of her earlier verse along with a rich series of new poems that she has been writing for the last four years.

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547858227
  • ISBN-10: 0547858221
  • Pages: 208
  • Publication Date: 09/18/2012
  • Carton Quantity: 1

About the book

"She never loses touch with her reverence for the immense what is." — Margaret Atwood

Though internationally known and honored for her imaginative fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin started out as a poet, and since 1959 has never ceased to publish poems. Finding My Elegy distills her life's work, offering a selection of the best from her six earlier volumes of poetry and introducing a powerful group of poems, at once earthy and transcendent, written in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

The fruit of over a half century of writing, the seventy selected and seventy-seven new poems consider war and creativity, motherhood and the natural world, and glint with humor and vivid beauty. These moving works of art are a reckoning with a whole life.

About the author
Ursula K. Le Guin

URSULA K. LE GUIN was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929, and passed away in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She published over sixty books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, children's literature, and translation. She was the recipient of a National Book Award, six Hugo and five Nebula awards, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  


From Wild Angels (1960–1975)


I made a poem going

to sleep last night, woke

in sunlight, it was clean forgotten.

If it was any good, gods

of the great darkness

where sleep goes and farther

death goes, you not named,

then as true offering

accept it.

The Maenads

Somewhere I read

that when they finally staggered off the mountain

into some strange town, past drunk,

hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,

blood dried under broken nails

and across young thighs,

but still jeering and joking, still trying

to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling

dead asleep by the market stalls,

sprawled helpless, flat out, then

middle-aged women,

respectable housewives,

would come and stand nightlong in the agora



as ewes and cows in the night fields,

guarding, watching them

as their mothers

watched over them.

And no man


that fierce decorum.

From A Book of Songs

The Old Lady

I have dreed my dree, I have wooed my wyrd,

and now I shall grow a five-foot beard

and braid it into tiny braids

and wander where the webfoot wades

among the water’s shining blades.

I will fear nothing I have feared.

I’m the queen of spades, the jack of trades,

braiding my knives into my beard.

Why should I know what I have known?

Once was enough to make it my own.

The things I got I will forget.

I’ll knot my beard into a net

and cast the net and catch a fish

who will ungrant my every wish

and leave me nothing but a stone

on the riverbed alone,

leave me nothing but a rock

where the feet of herons walk.

Creation of the Horse

The salt green uncle-god, the Earthquaker,

thought of a creature with muscles like sea-swells

to leap across the beaches like a breaker

and beat on the earth like the waves with its feet.

So he struck a startled island with his trident

and then himself stood back in surprise

at the fiery uprearing, the white mane flying,

the foam-spattered flanks and the earth-dark eyes.

The Arts of Old Age

written in the airport

I learn the arts of old age day by day:

the expertise of being lame; the sense

of unimpatient impotence;

the irony of all accomplishments;

the silent, furtive welcome of delay.

The Whirlwind

Will fear of the foreboding dream

avert or invite the prophecy?

How to foretell the paths of dust

caught in this visionary whirl,

this standing wind, this spiral stream?

A breath breathed out will set me free.

I’ll choose to do the thing I must.

The world dreamed me, I dream the world.

January Night Prayer

Bellchimes jangle, freakish wind

whistles icy out of desert lands

over the mountains. Janus, Lord

of winter and beginnings, riven

and shaken, with two faces,

watcher at the gates of winds and cities,

god of the wakeful:

keep me from coldhanded envy

and petty anger. Open

my soul to the vast

dark places. Say to me, say again,

nothing is taken, only given.