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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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1 Burnside Poetry- A to Z

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News of the World

by

News of the World Cover

 

 

Excerpt

OUR VALLEY

We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August

when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay

of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard

when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment

you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost

believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,

something massive, irrational, and so powerful even

the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains

have no word for ocean, but if you live here

you begin to believe they know everything.

They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,

a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls

slowly between the pines and the wind dies

to less than a whisper and you can barely catch

your breath because you're thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn't your land.

It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside

and thought was yours. Remember the small boats

that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men

who carved a living from it only to find themselves

carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,

so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,

wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

THE HEART OF OCTOBER

Dusk south of Barcelona, the slopes

leading up to the fortress, a city

of wooden crates and cardboard shacks

staggers up the mountain as the rain

runs down, a black river. The final night,

I whisper to no one. A patch of red,

the single moving thing, comes toward me

to become the shirt of a young girl,

eleven or twelve. Bare- legged, picking

her way to avoid the sharp stones,

she reaches me. Through perfect teeth

in her perfect mouth she demands a duro,

one hand held out. Only one duro,

she insists, stamping a naked foot,

browned and filthy on the filthy earth.

When I pay up and turn for home

she is beside me laughing as the rain

streams down her forehead, her short hair

a black cap plastered in place. "A duro! "

she demands again. "Another?" I say.

"Yes, of course," she laughs into the face

of the rain, "and after that another."

Even a child knows the meaning of rain:

it is the gift of October, a gift

that arrives on time each autumn

to darken the makeshift shacks and lighten

the hillside with a single splash of color.

NEWS OF THE WORLD

Once we were out of Barcelona the road climbed past small farm-

houses hunched down on the gray, chalky hillsides. The last person

we saw was a girl in her late teens in a black dress & gray apron

carrying a chicken upside down by the claws. She looked up &

smiled. An hour later the land opened into enormous green meadows.

At the frontier a cop asked in guttural Spanish almost as bad

as mine why were we going to Andorra. "Tourism," I said. Laughing,

he waved us through. The rock walls of the valley were so

abrupt the town was only a single street wide. Blue plumes of

smoke ascended straight into the darkening sky. The next morning

we found what we'd come for: the perfect radio, French- made,

portable, lightweight, slightly garish with its colored dial &

chromed knobs, inexpensive. "Because of the mountains, reception

is poor," the shop owner said, so he tuned in the local Communist

station beamed to Spain. "Communist?" I said. Oh yes, they'd

come twenty- five years ago to escape the Germans, & they'd stayed.

"Back then," he said, "we were all reds." "And now?" I said. Now

he could sell me anything I wanted. "Anything?" He nodded. A

tall, graying man, his face carved down to its essentials. "A Cadillac?"

I said. Yes, of course, he could get on the phone & have it out

front— he checked his pocket watch— by four in the afternoon.

"An American film star?" One hand on his unshaved cheek, he

gazed upward at the dark beamed ceiling. "That could take a week."

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307272232
Author:
Levine, Philip
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Author:
Levine, Philip
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Single Author / General
Subject:
Poetry-A to Z
Subject:
Single Author / American
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
80
Dimensions:
9.28x6.40x.49 in. .60 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

News of the World Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 80 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307272232 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A superb new collection from “a great American poet . . . still at work on his almost-song of himself” (The New York Times Book Review).

In both lively prose poems and more formal verse, Philip Levine brings us news from everywhere: from Detroit, where exhausted workers try to find a decent breakfast after the late shift, and Henry Ford, “supremely bored” in his mansion, clocks in at one of his plants . . . from Spain, where a woman sings a song that rises at dawn, like the dust of ages, through an open window . . . from Andorra, where an old Communist can now supply you with anything you want—a French radio, a Cadillac, or, if you have a week, an American film star.

The world of his poetry is one of questionable magic: a typist lives for her only son who will die in a war to come; three boys fish in a river while a fine industrial residue falls on their shoulders. This is a haunted world in which exotic animals travel first class, an immigrant worker in Detroit yearns for the silence of his Siberian exile, and the Western mountains “maintain that huge silence we think of as divine.”

A rich, deeply felt collection from one of our master poets.

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