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A Poet's Glossaryby Edward Hirsch
Synopses & Reviews
A work of art, whether a painting, a dance, a poem, or a jazz composition, can be admired in its own right. But how does the artist actually create his or her work? What is the source of an artist's inspiration? What is the force that impels the artist to set down a vision that becomes art?
In this groundbreaking book, poet and critic Edward Hirsch explores the concept of duende, that mysterious, highly potent power of creativity that results in a work of art. It has been said that Laurence Olivier had it, and so did Ernest Hemingway, but Maurice Evans and John O'Hara did not. Marlon Brando had it but squandered it. Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith had it, and so did Miles Davis.
From Federico García Lorca's wrestling with darkness as he discovered the fountain of words within himself to Martha Graham's creation of her most emotional dances, from the canvases of Robert Motherwell to William Blake's celestial visions, Hirsch taps into the artistic imagination and explains, in terms illuminating and emotional, how different artists respond to the power and demonic energy of creative impulse.
A masterful tour of the minds and thoughts
of writers, poets, painters, and musicians, including
Federico García Lorca
T. S. Eliot
Rainer Maria Rilke
A joyful, elegant glossary of poetic terms spanning centuries and continents, from the famed poet and author of the bestselling How to Read a Poem (And Fall in Love with Poetry).
"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance," wrote Alexander Pope. "The dance," in the case of Oliver's brief and luminous book, refers to the interwoven pleasures of sound and sense to be found in some of the most celebrated and beautiful poems in the English language, from Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Robert Frost. With a poet's ear and a poet's grace of expression, Oliver shows what makes a metrical poem work - and enables readers, as only she can, to "enter the thudding deeps and the rippling shallows of sound-pleasure and rhythm-pleasure that intensify both the poem's narrative and its ideas."
Edward Hirsch began writing a column in the Washington Post Book World called "Poet's Choice" in 2002. This book brings together those enormously popular columns, some of which have been revised and expanded, to present a minicourse in world poetry; Poet's Choice includes the work of more than 130 poets-from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and America, from ancient times to the present-and demonstrates how poetry responds to the challenges of our modern world. Rich, relevant, and inviting, the book reveals how poetry both puts us in touch with ourselves and connects us to each other.
I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
Insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
Going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
Taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
Alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
Half frozen, dying of grief.
-from "WALKING AROUND" by PABLO NERUDA,
translated by ROBERT BLY
How to Read a Poem is an unprecedented exploration of poetry and feeling. In language at once acute and emotional, distinguished poet and critic Edward Hirsch describes why poetry matters and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message can make a difference. In a marvelous reading of verse from around the world, including work by Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Sylvia Plath, among many others, Hirsch discovers the true meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home into our hearts. A masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives.
About the Author
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. A MacArthur fellow, he has published eight books of poems and four books of prose. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome Prize, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and lives in Brooklyn.
Table of Contents
Only Mystery - 1
Invoking the Duende - 3
Poetic Fact - 5
A Mysterious Power - 8
The Hidden Spirit of Disconsolate Spain - 13
An Apprenticeship - 19
Between Eros and Thanatos - 29
The Majesty of the Incomprehensible - 35
A Spectacular Meteor - 39
Swooping In - 45
Ardent Struggle, Endless Vigil - 49
The Black Paintings - 55
The Intermediary - 58
Yeats's Daimon - 65
Ars Poetica? - 72
A Passionate Ingredient - 76
The Yearning Cry of a Shade - 80
I Sing You, Wild Chasm - 85
Night Work - 91
Vegetable Life, Airy Spirit - 96
A Person Must Control His Thoughts in a Dream - 101
The Angelic World - 109
The Story of Jacob's Wrestling with an Angel - 118
Concerning the Angels - 126
The Rilkean Angel - 132
Angel, Still Groping - 141
The New Angel - 147
Three American Angels - 152
Demon or Bird! - 157
Between Two Contending Forces - 162
The Sublime Is Now - 166
In the Painting - 171
Paint It Black - 178
Motherwell's Black - 184
Deaths and Entrances - 191
Ancient Music and Fresh Forms - 196
America Heard in Rhythm - 202
Hey, I'm American, So I Played It - 207
Fending Off the Duende - 213
The Existentialist Flatfoot Floogie - 220
Poet in New York - 222
Where Is the Angel? Where Is the Duende? - 229
Notes - 231
Reading List: The Pleasure of the Text - 279
Acknowledgments - 303
Permissions Acknowledgments - 304
Index - 309
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