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Old 05-30-2018, 07:37 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,439

Just finished Another Animal. Really enjoyed "Sunset." I bought Edwin Morgan, who I had not heard of, on your word, Walter. Looking forward to reading the two alongside each other.


The yawn grandiose and transient
of a pink-throated whale
drowning on the pale sky tide
The prairie and our eyes are dyed
the color of longing

The train on its compulsive rail
tools forward spinning the slow
roulette wheel of the land
In miniature its windows thread the stain
The gray sand drinks it red
Our pupils spread to hold it in vain

We plow through monstrous light
approach the narrowing throat of darkness
the tragic height of scarlet passed
before we mark it
Our senses hurriedly bared like knives
to meet the pure shriek
flinch as dusk dilutes the tide
smudges the whale's cheek
to an ashen whimper

lavish in his savagery
so strawberry-full of promise
spewn out so profligate
then retracted reeled-in stingied soon gone
The land turning in sorrow
where the fiery yawn has faded
the train tools on.
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Old 05-30-2018, 11:09 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Posts: 1,497

Just finished the LoA volume today. I think she trailed off somewhat in her later years (though her last two books have their share of gems), with too many of the poems reading like descriptions straight out of life, though "Banyan" is a damn fine way to go out (and it makes a wonderful callback to "Secure", one of her best poems—see below).

Half Sun Half Sleep is, I think, her best book, though "Bleeding", the poem that prompted me to buy the volume, is the best single poem.

Beyond "Bleeding" and "Ocean, Whale-Shaped", which I've already highlighted here, I really love these two poems:


Let us deceive ourselves a little
while...Let us pretend that air
is earth...and falling lie resting
within each other's gaze...Let us

deny that flame consumes...that
fruit ripens...that the wave must
break...Let us forget the circle's
fixed beginning marks to the
instant its ordained end...Let us

lean upon the moment and expect
time to enfold sustain
our weight...Let us be still...and
falling lie face to face and drink
each other's breath...Be still
Let us be still...We lie secure

within the careful mind of death

On its Way

Orange on its way to Ash.
Anger that a night will quench.
Passion in its honey swell
pumpkin-plump before the rot.
Bush of fire everywhere.
Fur of hillside running flame.
Rush of heat to rosehip cheek.
Ripeness on its way to frost.
Glare of blood before the black.
Foxquick pulse. The sun a den.
Heartkill. And the gold a gun.
It is death that taints the leaves.
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Old 05-31-2018, 09:13 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,901

Let me know how Morgan goes, Andrew! He is one of my favorite poets.
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:08 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,439

Will do. I've got his 1996 Collected. It seemed like a more comprehensive and better way in than the 2000 Selected.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:38 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,750

I have some time this morning so I'm swinging through the boards... and came back to this thread on May Swenson's poetry. Again I'm blown away by her phrasing and imagery. Thanks for that, Aaron.
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:16 AM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 4,070

This is one way to present Swenson's "How Everything Happens."

Wilbur greatly admired Swenson, and this was one of his favorites. I've anthologized it, and I always loved showing it to students and having someone read it out loud.
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Old 07-27-2018, 02:19 AM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 442

I love May Swenson. I discovered her volume New & Selected Things Taking Place when I was a young poet in my 20s & have loved her work ever since. It's fun to hear how much others admire her, too.

Here's one of my favorites, "Snow in New York," which I used to teach in one class or another every December.
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