American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 2: E.E. Cummings to May Swenson

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These two volumes make up the first half of the largest anthology of 20th-century American poetry ever attempted. Over 200 poets are represented, all born before 1914, and presented in birth-date order. The scale here is unprecedented, and the spectrum broad, inclusive and generous. The effect is breathtaking. The first volume begins with anonymous ballads, establishing a theme of popular song that is sustained throughout both volumes, including blues, folks songs and Broadway tunes. This suggests the music that was in the air at the time much of this work was being written, as well as asserting the value of these songs as poetry in their own right. "I can tell the wind is rising/ leaves trembling on the trees/ umm hmm hmm hmm/ all I need my little sweet woman/ and to keep my company" (Robert Johnson, vol. 2). The emphasis in vol. 1 is on the richness of modernism, with enormous selections of Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Marianne Moore and T.S. Eliot. Several of these are long enough to comprise an entire volume of selected poems. (Mina Loy gets more than the usual page or two.) The selections are solidly edited, presenting the most representative and well-known poems across each writer's oeuvre. The second volume includes many more poets, and tends toward shorter selections, though Hart Crane is featured prominently. Multiple and simultaneous layers of American poetics are represented side-by-side in both volumes: lyricism, early confessional poetry, Imagism, light verse, Objectivism, the Harlem Renaissance, hoaxes, the Fugitives, among others. One of the greatest pleasures of these books is discovering (or re-discovering) poets like Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Lola Ridge, John G. Neihardt or dadaist Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, energetic and distinct poets who have long since been dropped from most cullings, or were never included in the first place. This anthology, edited by Robert Hass, John Hollander, Carolyn Kizer, Nathaniel Mackey and Marjorie Perloff, will be an invaluable and lasting resource to anyone interested in American poetry. Its inclusive take on the multiplicity of work leaves all the differences intact, all the layers in context. It brilliantly illuminates the shifting substance of American poetry. (Apr.) FYI: Geoffrey O'Brien is editor-in-chief of the Library of America, and the author of The Times Square Story and other nonfiction, as well as of Floating City: Selected Poems 1978-1995. His The Browser's Ecstasy: A Meditation on Reading is due from Counterpoint in June. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Part of the distinguished Library of America series, this impressive anthology was edited by Robert Hass, John Hollander, Carolyn Kizer, Nathaniel Mackey, and Marjorie Perloff, who arranged the poets chronologically by date of birth. Readers will appreciate the diversity of the poetry, including generous selections of the high moderns (Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and Theodore Roethke). There is also vers de societ (Dorothy Parker, Phyllis McGinley, Ogden Nash, and Virginia Adair). African American writers include Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Richard Wright, and Claude McKay. Even musicians and composers are well represented (Woody Guthrie, Bessie Smith, Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, and Oscar Hammerstein). The two volumes contain more than 1500 poems by over 200 different poets, with excellent biographical and textual notes and an index of first lines. Essential for all poetry collections.--Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Findlay, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883011789
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1000
  • Sales rank: 1,007,777
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


R. P. Blackmur
1904-1965


Mirage
The wind was in another country, and
the day had gathered to its heart of noon
the sum of silence, heat, and stricken time.
Not a ripple spread. The sea mirrored
perfectly all the nothing in the sky.
We had to walk about to keep our eyes
from seeing nothing, and our hearts from stopping
at nothing. Then most suddenly we saw
horizon on horizon lifting up
out of the sea's edge a shining mountain
sun-yellow and sea-green; against it surf
flung spray and spume into the miles of sky.
Somebody said mirage, and it was gone,
but there I have been living ever since.


BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON
(1897-1929)


Long Distance Moan
I'm flying to South Carolina
                           I gotta go there this time
I'm flying to South Carolina
                           I gotta go there this time
Woman in Dallas Texas
                     is 'bout to make me lose my mind


Long distance, longdistance
                          will you please give me a credit call
Long distance, long distance
                          will you give me a please cr-credit call
Want to talk to my gal in South Carolina
                                 who looks like a Indian squaw


Just want to ask my baby
                         what in the world is she been doing
I want to ask my baby
                      what in the world is she been doing
Give your loving to another joker
                                and it's sure gonna be my ruin


Hey long distance
                 I can't help but moan
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
                I can't help but moan
My baby's voice sound so sweet
                          oh I'm gonna break this telephone


You don't know you love
                        your rider till she is so far from you
You don't know you love your rider
                                    until she's so far from you


You can get long distance moan
                             and you don't care what you do


I say no use standing and buzzing
                               to get my brownie off my mind
No use standing and bawling
                            get my baby off my mind
This long distance moan
                        about to worry me to death this time
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Table of Contents

"All in green went my love riding" 1
"in Just-/spring when the world is mud-" 2
"Tumbling-hair/picker of buttercups" 3
"Humanity i love you" 3
"O sweet spontaneous" 4
"stinging/gold swarms" 5
"between green/mountains" 6
"Babylon slim/-ness of" 6
"ta/ppin/g/toe" 7
"Buffalo Bill's/defunct" 7
"the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls" 8
"god pity me whom(god distinctly has)" 8
"Dick Mid's large bluish face without eyebrows" 9
"Spring is like a perhaps hand" 9
Poem, or Beauty Hurts Mr. Vinal 10
"she being Brand" 12
"on the Madam's best april the" 13
Memorabilia 14
"next to of course god america i" 15
"lis/-ten//you know what i mean when" 15
"my sweet old etcetera" 16
"Among/these/red pieces of" 17
"in spite of everything" 18
"since feeling is first" 18
"i sing of Olaf glad and big" 18
"twi-/is -Light bird" 20
"a clown's smirk in the skull of a baboon" 20
"somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond" 21
"r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r" 22
"the boys i mean are not refined" 22
"as freedom is a breakfastfood" 23
"anyone lived in a pretty how town" 24
"my father moved through dooms of love" 25
"plato told" 27
"pity this busy monster, manunkind" 28
"a grin without a" 29
Proud Riders 30
Europa 31
Test Paper 32
From the Green Book of Yfan 33
Mater Dolorosa 35
Words of an Old Woman 36
Hasbrouck and the Rose 37
Bill Gets Burned 39
"On Brooklyn Bridge I saw a man drop dead" 42
"I met in a merchant's place" 42
"The shopgirls leave their work" 42
"How shall we mourn you who are killed and wasted" 42
"My work done, I lean on the window-sill" 43
"In the shop, she, her mother, and grandmother" 43
The Idiot 43
"She who worked patiently" 43
Epidemic 43
"Her work was to count linings--" 43
"The house-wreckers have left the door and a staircase" 44
Aphrodite Vrania 44
April 44
"Out of the hills the trees bulge" 44
"How difficult for me is Hebrew" 44
"I have learnt the Hebrew blessing before eating bread" 44
"After I had worked all day at what I earn my living" 44
"The Hebrew of your poets, Zion" 45
"Though our thoughts often, we ourselves" 45
"Among the heaps of brick and plaster lies" 45
Epitaphs 45
Millinery District ["The clouds ..."] 46
"A dead gull in the road" 47
"I like this secret walking" 47
Rainy Season 47
"Of course, we must die" 48
My grandfather, dead long before I was born" 48
"A grove of small trees, branches thick with berries" 48
Millinery District ["Many fair hours ..."] 48
Similes 49
Epitaph 49
Free Verse 49
from Early History of a Writer 50
Empty Bed Blues 57
Everyday Alchemy 59
Thirst 59
To One Loved Wholly Within Wisdom 59
To Mr. Maunder Maunder, Professional Poet 60
To the Powers of Desolation 61
To the Natural World: at 37 61
Try Tropic 62
All Around the Town 63
Bounding Line 64
Hymn to Yellow 64
The Weed 65
Fructus 66
Reapers 68
Cotton Song 68
Georgia Dusk 69
Nullo 70
Evening Song 70
Portrait in Georgia 71
Seventh Street 71
Storm Ending 72
Her Lips Are Copper Wire 72
Gum 73
The Gods Are Here 74
This Amber Sunstream 75
Axle Song 75
The Near House 76
Midland 77
So Simple 77
Where I Saw the Snake 77
The First Poem 78
Lamentations 79
Winter Nocturne: The Hospital 80
"To an Amiable Child" 81
Creatures in the Zoo 82
A Purplexicon of Dissynthegrations 84
Ol' Man River 87
Little Girl Blue 89
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered 90
Dead Man's Corner 92
Epitaphs 93
A House of the Eighties 94
The Omelet of A. MacLeish 95
Newsreel LIII 99
Waltz Against the Mountains 101
Something Starting Over 104
Noon 106
I Can't Get Started 107
They All Laughed 109
Elegy for Melusine from the Intensive Care Ward 111
Red-Headed Intern, Taking Notes 113
Scene: A Bedside in the Witches' Kitchen 113
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 115
Insects 117
A History of the Caesars 117
Medusa 119
Knowledge 120
Women 120
The Alchemist 121
My Voice Not Being Proud 121
Men Loved Wholly Beyond Wisdom 122
Sub Contra 122
Cassandra 123
Winter Swan 123
Dark Summer 123
Late 124
Song 124
Short Summary 125
Roman Fountain 125
Evening-Star 126
Baroque Comment 126
Kept 127
Heard by a Girl 127
Several Voices Out of a Cloud 128
Musician 128
Zone 129
Night 129
Morning 130
The Dragonfly 131
Sermon 132
Serenade 132
Kiss 133
Almost a God 134
Long Distance Moan 135
from Elegy in the Manner of a Requiem in Memory of D. H. Lawrence 137
Waiter 140
History of Education 140
Slow Curtain 141
Why Must You Know? 141
Would You Think? 142
Fish Food: An Obituary to Hart Crane 143
Come Over and Help Us 144
Anathema. Maranatha! 147
In the Bathtub, to Mnemosyne 148
Esprit d'Escalier 149
Cross Questions 149
from John Brown's Body 150
American Names 154
Cotton Mather 156
Daniel Boone 156
Metropolitan Nightmare 157
Winter Tenement 160
Ernest 161
Vision 162
Photoheliograph 165
from Chorus for Survival 166
The Cage of Voices 168
from Libretto for the Republic of Liberia 170
from Harlem Gallery 176
April Mortality 183
Ghostly Tree 183
The Rounds and Garlands Done 184
The Moon and Spectator 185
Fragmentary Stars 185
The Horn 186
The Figurehead 187
Grapes Making 187
Chaplinesque 189
For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen 190
Voyages 194
Repose of Rivers 199
The Wine Menagerie 199
At Melville's Tomb 201
The Bridge 202
O Carib Isle! 242
The Broken Tower 243
Take My Hand, Precious Lord 245
Dumb 246
Moment 246
Fern Song 246
Frog Song 247
True Western Summer 248
from The Indians in the Woods 249
Girl Help 251
The Reader 252
Winter Garden 252
Helen Grown Old 253
For the Father of Sandro Gulotta 254
The Ancient Ones: Betatakin 255
Garden Note I, Los Altos 256
Garden Note II, March 256
from The Wild Party 257
from Lolita 263
On Translating "Eugene Onegin" 265
Santo Domingo Corn Dance 266
Mr. Pope 269
Ode to the Confederate Dead 269
The Twelve 272
Last Days of Alice 273
The Wolves 274
Aeneas at Washington 275
The Ivory Tower 276
The Mediterranean 277
Sonnets at Christmas 279
The Swimmers 280
February Ground 283
Walt Whitman 285
Two Songs of Advent 288
The Magpie's Shadow 288
The Solitude of Glass 291
October 292
Vacant Lot 292
The Cold 293
Nocturne 294
The Barnyard 294
Wild Sunflower 295
The Realization 296
Apollo and Daphne 296
The Fable 297
The Fall of Leaves 297
The Slow Pacific Swell 298
To a Young Writer 299
By the Road to the Sunnyvale Air-Base 300
Elegy on a Young Airedale Bitch Lost Two Years Since in the Salt-Marsh 300
On Teaching the Young 301
Time and the Garden 301
In Praise of California Wines 302
To the Moon 303
Long Gone 304
Scotty Has His Say 305
Sister Lou 306
Southern Road 308
Memphis Blues 309
Ma Rainey 311
Slim in Atlanta 313
Children's Children 314
Chillen Get Shoes 315
Sporting Beasley 316
Cabaret 318
Old Lem 321
A Broken View 323
Onion Fields 324
Earthworm 324
Slow 325
By Night 325
The Curse 326
While I Slept 326
The Sound I Listened For 326
As Easily As Trees 327
Waxwings 327
Pitcher 328
Cypresses 328
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