Synopses & Reviews
The poems in this volume have been newly selected by Galway Kinnell from his eight collections published between 1960 and 1994: What a Kingdom It Was; Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock; Body Rags; The Book of Nightmares; Mortal Acts, Mortal Words; The Past; When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone; and Imperfect Thirst. Occasional revisions are addressed by Kinnell in a prefatory note. The life of this American poet is glimpsed over the years -- his childhood in New England, the early death of his brother, an exuberant youth in New York City, a wife and children, aloneness and new love. The natural world serves as backdrop to this life's journey, informing the philosophical and political poems as well as the personal works gathered in A New Selected Poems.
The poems in this volume have been newly selected by Kinnell from his eight collections published between 1960 and 1994. Readers get a glimpse of the life of this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
That Silent Evening
I will go back to that silent evening when we lay together and talked in silent voices, while outside slow lumps of soft snow fell, hushing as they got near the ground, with a fire in the room, in which centuries of tree went up in continuous ghost-giving-up, without a crackle, into morning light.
Not until what hastens went slower did we sleep.
When we got home we turned and looked back at our tracks twining out of the woods, where the branches we brushed against let fall puffs of sparkling snow, quickly, in silence, like stolen kisses, and where the scritch scritch scritch among the trees, which is the sound that dies inside the sparks from the wedge when the sledge hits it off center telling everything inside it is fire, jumped to a black branch, puffed up but without arms and so to our eyes lonesome, and yet also--how can we know this?--happy!
in shape of chickadee. Lying still in snow, not iron-willed, like railroad tracks, willing not to meet until heaven, but here and there treading slubby kissing stops, our tracks wobble across the snow their long scratch.
So many things that happen here are really little more, if even that, than a scratch, too. Words, in our mouths, are almost ready, already, to bandage the one whom the scritch scritch scritch, meaning if how when we might lose each other, scratches scratches scratches from this moment to that. Then I will go back to that silent evening, when the past just managed to overlap the future, if only by a trace, and the light doubles and casts through the dark a sparkling that heavens the earth.
About the Author
Galway Kinnell is a former MacArthur Fellow and has been state poet of Vermont. In 1982 his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. For many years he was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University. He is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. For thirty-five years--from WHAT A KINGDOM IT WAS to THE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES to THREEE BOOKS--Galway Kinnell has been enriching American poetry, not only by his poems but also by his teaching and his powerful public readings.
Table of Contents
Authors Note xi
FROM What a Kingdom It Was 1960 First Song 3 For William Carlos Williams 4 Freedom, New Hampshire 5 The Supper After the Last 9 The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World 12
FROM Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock 1964 The River That Is East 29 For Robert Frost 31 Poem of Night 35 Middle of the Way 37 Ruins Under the Stars 39 Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock 41
FROM Body Rags 1968 Another Night in the Ruins 47 Vapor Trail Reflected in the Frog Pond 49 The Burn 51 The Fly 52 The Correspondence School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Poetry Students 53 How Many Nights 54 The Porcupine 55 The Bear 59 FROM The Book of Nightmares 1971 Under the Maud Moon 65 The Hen Flower 70 The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible 74 Little Sleeps-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight 79 Lastness 83
FROM Mortal Acts, Mortal Words 1980 Fergus Falling 91 After Making Love We Hear Footsteps 93 Saint Francis and the Sow 94 Wait 95 Daybreak 96 Blackberry Eating 97 Kissing the Toad 98 On the Tennis Court at Night 99 The Last Hiding Places of Snow 101 Looking at Your Face 105 Fisherman 106 52 Oswald Street 107 A Milk Bottle 108
FROM The Past 1985 The Road Between Here and There 113 Conception 115 The Sow Piglets Escapes 116 The Olive Wood Fire 117 The Frog Pond 118 Prayer 120 Fire in Luna Park 121 Cemetery Angels 122 On the Oregon Coast 123 First Day of the Future 124 The Fundamental Project of Technology 125 The Waking 127 That Silent Evening 130
FROM When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone 1990 The Tragedy of Bricks 133 The Cat 135 Oatmeal 137 The Perch 139 The Room 141 Last Gods 142 Farewell 144 When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone 146
FROM Imperfect Thirst 1994 My Mothers R & R 159 The Man in the Chair 160 The Cellist 162 Running on Silk 164 The Deconstruction of Emily Dickinson 166 Sheffield Ghazal 4: Driving West 168 Sheffield Ghazal 5: Passing the Cemetery 169 Parkinsons Disease 170 Rapture 172 Flies 174 Neverland 178