Posts tagged knopf

Thank you for reading poems with us this month. As a farewell, a piece by Wallace Stevens. Until we meet again, we hope you find yourself surrounded by his “gaiety that is being, not merely knowing,” and plenty of good verse.          - The Knopf Poetry Team

Of Bright & Blue Birds & The Gala Sun   Some things, niño, some things are like this, That instantly and in themselves are gay And you and I are such things, O most miserable…   For a moment they are gay and are a part Of an element, the exactest element for us, In which we pronounce joy like a word of our own.   It is there, being imperfect, and with these things And erudite in happiness, with nothing learned, That we are joyously ourselves and we think   Without the labor of thought, in that element, And we feel, in a way apart, for a moment, as if There was a bright scienza outside of ourselves,   A gaiety that is being, not merely knowing, The will to be and to be total in belief, Provoking a laughter, an agreement, by surprise.

Thank you for reading poems with us this month. As a farewell, a piece by Wallace Stevens. Until we meet again, we hope you find yourself surrounded by his “gaiety that is being, not merely knowing,” and plenty of good verse.
          - The Knopf Poetry Team

Of Bright & Blue Birds & The Gala Sun
 
Some things, niño, some things are like this,
That instantly and in themselves are gay
And you and I are such things, O most miserable…
 
For a moment they are gay and are a part
Of an element, the exactest element for us,
In which we pronounce joy like a word of our own.
 
It is there, being imperfect, and with these things
And erudite in happiness, with nothing learned,
That we are joyously ourselves and we think
 
Without the labor of thought, in that element,
And we feel, in a way apart, for a moment, as if
There was a bright scienza outside of ourselves,
 
A gaiety that is being, not merely knowing,
The will to be and to be total in belief,
Provoking a laughter, an agreement, by surprise.

Jane Mayhall (1918-2009) wrote some of her most significant poetry in her eighties, after the death of her husband Leslie George Katz, the founder of the Eakins Press, to whom she was married for more than fifty years. Her grief poems are nearly always love poems; here, in the aftermath, she looks back on the anticipatory grief – the stunning invitation to loss – that coexists with true love.



The Risk All the lovers, denying, pretendingthey didn’t know what wascoming. I knew ahead I might lose you.Your coat sleeve, presences, topography, pricked myrecognition, through soul, alost stability. Path to light, that angles darkness,our lying in the grass on amountain, hoisted biographies in the fragmented cloudswe watched, it was clear as the windsthat changed them. Face offate, that didn’t either have to be.  Our incalculableharmonies, bodies’ lithe fabrication, seascape,weather, mountains, the luckwhatever of place. Fulfillment swathed likeammunition in the breeze, your familiar warm shoulder, prescience —so good there was nothing to say,just the right pages turning,beyond the storm, threat to our love,their harbor risk.

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Jane Mayhall (1918-2009) wrote some of her most significant poetry in her eighties, after the death of her husband Leslie George Katz, the founder of the Eakins Press, to whom she was married for more than fifty years. Her grief poems are nearly always love poems; here, in the aftermath, she looks back on the anticipatory grief – the stunning invitation to loss – that coexists with true love.

The Risk
 
All the lovers, denying, pretending
they didn’t know what was
coming. I knew ahead I might lose you.
Your coat sleeve, presences, topography, pricked my
recognition, through soul, a
lost stability.
 
Path to light, that angles darkness,
our lying in the grass on a
mountain, hoisted biographies in the fragmented clouds
we watched, it was clear as the winds
that changed them. Face of
fate, that didn’t
 
either have to be.  Our incalculable
harmonies, bodies’ lithe fabrication, seascape,
weather, mountains, the luck
whatever of place. Fulfillment swathed like
ammunition in the breeze,
 
your familiar warm shoulder, prescience —
so good there was nothing to say,
just the right pages turning,
beyond the storm, threat to our love,
their harbor risk.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

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In 2009, Daniel Mendelsohn published new translations of the poems of the Alexandrine Greek poet C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933), including not only his published work but work that he had left finished but unpublished, or unfinished, in draft form. Cavafy’s poems, Mendelsohn reminds us, “bear witness to a deep, even scholarly interest in all phases of Greek history”; his other great subject was desire between men. A selection of Mendelsohn’s translations is now available in a Pocket Poets edition, and today we feature “On the Stairs,” a strikingly modern poem which comes from the “Unpublished” group.

Click play above to hear J. D. McClatchy read “On The Stairs”

On the Stairs
 
As I was going down the shameful stair,
you came in the door, and for moment
I saw your unfamiliar face and you saw me.
Then I hid so you wouldn’t see me again, and you
passed by quickly as you hid your face,
and stole inside the shameful house
where you likely found no pleasure, just as I found none.
 
And yet the love you wanted, I had to give you;
the love I wanted – your eyes told me so,
tired and suspicious – you had to give me.
Our bodies sensed and sought each other out;
our blood and skin understood.
 
But we hid from each other, we two, terrified.

From Marge Piercy’s 2006 volume The Crooked Inheritance – who can argue with this one?

In praise of joe   I love you hot I love you iced and in a pinch I will even consume you tepid.   Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree, dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp rich with tannin and smelling of thick life —   but you have your own scent that even rising as steam kicks my brain into gear. I drink you rancid out of vending machines,   I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit, I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.   Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes. You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.   Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek you keep me cooking, you keep me on line. Without you, I would never get out of bed   but spend my life pressing the snooze button. I would creep through wan days in the form of a large shiny slug.   You waken in me the gift of speech when I am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth. It is you who make me human every dawn. All my books are written with your ink.


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From Marge Piercy’s 2006 volume The Crooked Inheritance – who can argue with this one?

In praise of joe

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.
 
Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life —
 
but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,
 
I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.
 
Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.
 
Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed
 
but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.
 
You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

In Anne Caron’s 1998 Autobiography of Red, the red-winged boy Geryon fell in love with Herakles. Now in her Red Doc>, another book-length verse adventure, we meet them again in later life — Geryon, now called simply “G,” reencounters his old friend, who is a war veteran nicknamed “Sad” (short for “Sad But Great”), and the two journey in new and far-flung settings, from green pastures where musk oxen roam to a landscape of glacial ice. Along the way, G faces the death of his mother, whom he elegizes in this excerpt.

Shuffling recipes coupons horoscopes in a kitchen drawer he turns up an old B&W photograph of her posed in dashing swim costume on some long ago back porch. One leg forward like a Greek kouros a cigarette in the other hand she glows as a drop of water glows in sun. She looks sexually astute in a way that terrifies him he puts this aside and all at once the grainy photograph the early marvel of her life flung up at him a thing hardly believable! knocks him to his knees. He grips his arms and weeps. Pain catches the whole insides of him and wrings it. Oddly now remembering his grandmother’s wringer washer silvergreen and upright on a platform of wet boards in her back kitchen beside the washing tubs. How carefully he’d been taught to feed a piece of dripping cloth between the two big lips of the rollers while she cranked the handle and the cloth grabbed forward to emerge on the other side as a weird compressed pane of itself. He hadn’t known his grandmother long or well. She smelled of Noxzema. Didn’t like doctors. Believed in herbs and the Bible. When the apostles walked down the street she said their shadows would heal people. His mother once told him a story about her dying. They never liked each other hadn’t visited for years but someone arranged a phone call. So there they were mother and daughter on the telephone separate cities separate nights both suffering from asthma and so moved they couldn’t speak. I heard her breathing I knew what it was his mother said. He looks up. He’d almost forgot about the rain. Unloading on the roof and squandering down the gutters. Rain continuous since the funeral a wrecking rattling bewildering Lethe- knuckling mob of rain. A rain with no instructions.   Listening to rain he thinks how strange all its surfaces sound like they’re sliding up. How strange his mother is lying out there in her little soaked Chanel suit. The weeping has been arriving about every seven minutes. In the days to come it will grow less.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

In Anne Caron’s 1998 Autobiography of Red, the red-winged boy Geryon fell in love with Herakles. Now in her Red Doc>, another book-length verse adventure, we meet them again in later life Geryon, now called simply “G,” reencounters his old friend, who is a war veteran nicknamed “Sad” (short for “Sad But Great”), and the two journey in new and far-flung settings, from green pastures where musk oxen roam to a landscape of glacial ice. Along the way, G faces the death of his mother, whom he elegizes in this excerpt.

Shuffling recipes
coupons horoscopes in
a kitchen drawer he turns
up an old B&W
photograph of her posed in
dashing swim costume on
some long ago back porch.
One leg forward like a
Greek kouros a cigarette
in the other hand she
glows as a drop of water
glows in sun. She looks
sexually astute in a way
that terrifies him he puts
this aside and all at once
the grainy photograph the
early marvel of her life
flung up at him a thing
hardly believable! knocks
him to his knees. He grips
his arms and weeps. Pain
catches the whole insides
of him and wrings it.
Oddly now remembering
his grandmother’s wringer
washer silvergreen and
upright on a platform of
wet boards in her back
kitchen beside the
washing tubs. How
carefully he’d been taught
to feed a piece of dripping
cloth between the two big
lips of the rollers while
she cranked the handle
and the cloth grabbed
forward to emerge on the
other side as a weird
compressed pane of itself.
He hadn’t known his
grandmother long or well.
She smelled of Noxzema.
Didn’t like doctors.
Believed in herbs and the
Bible. When the apostles
walked down the street
she said their shadows
would heal people. His
mother once told him a
story about her dying.
They never liked each
other hadn’t visited for
years but someone
arranged a phone call. So
there they were mother
and daughter on the
telephone separate cities
separate nights both
suffering from asthma and
so moved they couldn’t
speak. I heard her
breathing I knew what it
was his mother said. He
looks up. He’d almost
forgot about the rain.
Unloading on the roof and
squandering down the
gutters. Rain continuous
since the funeral a
wrecking rattling
bewildering Lethe-
knuckling mob of rain. A
rain with no instructions.
 
Listening to rain
he thinks how strange all
its surfaces sound like
they’re sliding up. How
strange his mother is lying
out there in her little
soaked Chanel suit. The
weeping has been arriving
about every seven
minutes. In the days to
come it will grow less.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

The ocean in its many guises figures prominently in Nancy Willard’s most recent collection, The Sea at Truro.

The Water Seamstress   The bride admires the pleats on the skin of the sea. So smooth! So cool! She fingers the waves, some quilted, some smocked and gathered   like the dress her mother made for herself to wear at the wedding, and for the pleasure of making it and for the company of the light at play on the satin as it poured through her hands,   and for the white frills on the sleeve of each wave as it sped along the shore, knitting itself, row after row, then exploding with joy and unraveling everything.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

The ocean in its many guises figures prominently in Nancy Willard’s most recent collection, The Sea at Truro.

The Water Seamstress
 
The bride admires the pleats on the skin
of the sea. So smooth! So cool!
She fingers the waves, some quilted,
some smocked and gathered
 
like the dress her mother made for herself
to wear at the wedding, and for the pleasure
of making it and for the company of the light
at play on the satin as it poured through her hands,
 
and for the white frills on the sleeve of each wave
as it sped along the shore, knitting itself,
row after row, then exploding with joy
and unraveling everything.

To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

As we’re celebrating the publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in its Second Edition this year, we offer birders (and readers) a pair of poems on the subject of our feathered friends, from two of our great English poets.


Three Things to Remember   A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all Heaven in a rage.   A skylark wounded on the wing Doth make a cherub cease to sing.   He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
— William Blake  Bird-Language   Trying to understand the words         Uttered on all sides by birds, I recognize in what I hear         Noises that betoken fear.   Though some of them, I’m certain, must         Stand for rage, bravado, lust, All other notes that birds employ         Sound like synonyms for joy.
— W. H. Auden


To share the poem-a-day experience, pass along this link »

As we’re celebrating the publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in its Second Edition this year, we offer birders (and readers) a pair of poems on the subject of our feathered friends, from two of our great English poets.

image

Three Things to Remember
 
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
 
A skylark wounded on the wing
Doth make a cherub cease to sing.
 
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.

— William Blake
 
Bird-Language
 
Trying to understand the words
        Uttered on all sides by birds,
I recognize in what I hear
        Noises that betoken fear.
 
Though some of them, I’m certain, must
        Stand for rage, bravado, lust,
All other notes that birds employ
        Sound like synonyms for joy.

W. H. Auden


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As Mary Jo Salter writes in her introduction to Amy Clampitt’s Selected Poems, Clampitt, who was raised during the Depression on the Iowa prairie, “lived in New York for half a century, but wrote about birds perched on branches at least as much as about passengers on the subway: she was an urban nature poet.” Here we find her back in her native Midwestern surround, bringing that urbanity to what she sees.

Witness   An ordinary evening in Wisconsin seen from a Greyhound bus — mute aisles of merchandise the sole inhabitants of the half-darkened Five and Ten,   the tables of the single lit café awash with unarticulated pathos, the surface membrane of the inadvertently transparent instant when no one is looking: outside town   the barns, their red gone dark with sundown, withhold the shudder of a warped terrain — the castle rocks above, tree-clogged ravines already submarine with nightfall, flocks   (like dark sheep) of toehold junipers, the lucent arms of birches : purity without a mirror, other than a mind bound elsewhere, to tell how it looks.

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link »

As Mary Jo Salter writes in her introduction to Amy Clampitt’s Selected Poems, Clampitt, who was raised during the Depression on the Iowa prairie, “lived in New York for half a century, but wrote about birds perched on branches at least as much as about passengers on the subway: she was an urban nature poet.” Here we find her back in her native Midwestern surround, bringing that urbanity to what she sees.

Witness
 
An ordinary evening in Wisconsin
seen from a Greyhound bus — mute aisles
of merchandise the sole inhabitants
of the half-darkened Five and Ten,
 
the tables of the single lit café awash
with unarticulated pathos, the surface membrane
of the inadvertently transparent instant
when no one is looking: outside town
 
the barns, their red gone dark with sundown,
withhold the shudder of a warped terrain
the castle rocks above, tree-clogged ravines
already submarine with nightfall, flocks
 
(like dark sheep) of toehold junipers,
the lucent arms of birches : purity
without a mirror, other than a mind bound
elsewhere, to tell how it looks.

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link »

Brooks Haxton’s Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms connects poems to their roots in prayer. He explains in a brief introduction, “A few years back, when I was translating ancient Greek poems from the same period as the Hebrew Psalter, I began to feel that I wanted my own poems to flow from sources as vital to me as Aphrodite and Apollo were to the Greeks. I turned to the Psalms as poems from my childhood, from my parents’ and their parents’ childhoods, with this kind of charge. Psalms had fascinated me before I understood what such old-fashioned language meant, and later, when I learned the meanings of the words, the poems fascinated me and moved me that much more.” Each poem in Haxton’s book is a response to a psalm, by one who takes them less as doctrine than as outcries — as he concludes, “I cry back from whatever vantage I can find.”

Fists I Thought Were Made To Hold the ReinsHe delighteth not in the strength of the horse…He maketh peace…  — Psalm 147 Catfish, lacking scales, are beautiful in their repulsive way, but they will give you an infected wound if you’re not careful. The filets I rubbed with cayenne, chili, salt, and ginger, skillet hot and dry, then drowned with lemon. Even the kids, who don’t eat fish, left none. My wife and I stopped brooding, and my right hand opened with me staring into the empty palm, long having, if I ever knew, forgotten when and how the reins slipped free. I love equestrians, but I let go the reins, unlike my heroes, lacking their authority, and wishing now to lack my lack as well. An unimaginable horse is rippling at a gallop far away, unshod, with hoofbeats as impermanent as stars.

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link »

Brooks Haxton’s Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms connects poems to their roots in prayer. He explains in a brief introduction, “A few years back, when I was translating ancient Greek poems from the same period as the Hebrew Psalter, I began to feel that I wanted my own poems to flow from sources as vital to me as Aphrodite and Apollo were to the Greeks. I turned to the Psalms as poems from my childhood, from my parents’ and their parents’ childhoods, with this kind of charge. Psalms had fascinated me before I understood what such old-fashioned language meant, and later, when I learned the meanings of the words, the poems fascinated me and moved me that much more.” Each poem in Haxton’s book is a response to a psalm, by one who takes them less as doctrine than as outcries — as he concludes, “I cry back from whatever vantage I can find.”

Fists I Thought Were Made To Hold the Reins

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse…He maketh peace…  Psalm 147

Catfish, lacking scales, are beautiful
in their repulsive way, but they will give you
an infected wound if you’re not careful.
The filets I rubbed with cayenne, chili, salt,
and ginger, skillet hot and dry, then drowned
with lemon. Even the kids, who don’t eat fish,
left none. My wife and I stopped brooding,
and my right hand opened with me staring
into the empty palm, long having, if I ever
knew, forgotten when and how the reins
slipped free. I love equestrians,
but I let go the reins, unlike my heroes,
lacking their authority, and wishing now
to lack my lack as well. An unimaginable horse
is rippling at a gallop far away, unshod,
with hoofbeats as impermanent as stars.

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link »

A broadside of Lucie Brock-Broido’s “Bird, Singing”
Click here to download a printable version.

A broadside of Lucie Brock-Broido’s “Bird, Singing”

Click here to download a printable version.