The poem was in an issue of the revived version of William Carlos Williams' little magazine from the 1930s, Contact. It was published from abut 1959 to 1965, and edited for some years by Evan S. Connell. I had several issues in my house. The poem was accompanied by a nice photograph of a rainy scene in a New York City park, and I can't recall who the photographer was either. I hadn't looked at the magazines in years, but I thought of them now and then and intended to dig them up someday to peruse them them again. I don't suppose I'll ever read that poem again now, but I'm sure the first line will come to mind frequently.
Evan S. Connell does show up in Google results, but those results told me that he died in 2013. So recently, and I had missed hearing about it somehow. He was memorialized in the weblog of Harper's Magazine, but I don't follow that, though I am a subscriber to the print edition. If his passing was noted there I didn't see it. Another ending. His magazine was a considerable influence on me during the early 1960s.
Another poem came to my mind this evening, after the rain eased up. It was Yvor Winters' "The Manzanita" and I wish I could post it as my Sunday verse, but I can't find it anywhere on the Internet. This is the shadow of the vast madrone is the final line, which is all I remember at the moment. If I had saved one book from that fire i'd wish it was my volume of Winters. But since I can't find it on the Internet I'll settle for another, though I think I've posted it here before.
The Slow Pacific Swell
by Yvor Winters
Far out of sight forever stands the sea,
Bounding the land with pale tranquillity.
When a small child, I watched it from a hill
At thirty miles or more. The vision still
Lies in the eye, soft blue and far away:
The rain has washed the dust from April day;
Paint-brush and lupine lie against the ground;
The wind above the hill-top has the sound
Of distant water in unbroken sky;
Dark and precise the little steamers ply-
Firm in direction they seem not to stir.
That is illusion. The artificer
Of quiet, distance holds me in a vise
And holds the ocean steady to my eyes.
Once when I rounded Flattery, the sea
Hove its loose weight like sand to tangle me
Upon the washing deck, to crush the hull;
Subsiding, dragged flesh at the bone. The skull
Felt the retreating wash of dreaming hair.
Half drenched in dissolution, I lay bare.
I scarcely pulled myself erect; I came
Back slowly, slowly knew myself the same.
That was the ocean. From the ship we saw
Gray whales for miles: the long sweep of the jaw,
The blunt head plunging clean above the wave.
And one rose in a tent of sea and gave
A darkening shudder; water fell away;
The whale stood shining, and then sank in spray.
A landsman, I. The sea is but a sound.
I would be near it on a sandy mound,
And hear the steady rushing of the deep
While I lay stinging in the sand with sleep.
I have lived inland long. The land is numb.
It stands beneath the feet, and one may come
Walking securely, till the sea extends
Its limber margin, and precision ends.
By night a chaos of commingling power,
The whole Pacific hovers hour by hour.
The slow Pacific swell stirs on the sand,
Sleeping to sink away, withdrawing land,
Heaving and wrinkled in the moon, and blind;
Or gathers seaward, ebbing out of mind.