American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse

Overview

Distinguished poet and critic John Hollander offers, for the first time ever, a buoyant guided tour of American light verse-a tradition he delightfully pursues from Ambrose Bierce's sardonic The Devil's Dictionary quatrains to the latter-day comic inventions of Edward Gorey, Kenneth Koch, and James Merrill. Along the way, American Wits gathers a rich harvest of couplets, clerihews, epigrams, parodies, burlesques, and other forms of fractured verse. The varied and often surprising list of contributors includes ...
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Overview

Distinguished poet and critic John Hollander offers, for the first time ever, a buoyant guided tour of American light verse-a tradition he delightfully pursues from Ambrose Bierce's sardonic The Devil's Dictionary quatrains to the latter-day comic inventions of Edward Gorey, Kenneth Koch, and James Merrill. Along the way, American Wits gathers a rich harvest of couplets, clerihews, epigrams, parodies, burlesques, and other forms of fractured verse. The varied and often surprising list of contributors includes Edwin Arlington Robinson, Don Marquis, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Morley, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ogden Nash, Phyllis McGinley, and Anthony Hecht.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931082495
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 10/13/2003
  • Series: American Poets Project
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 4.74 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

John Hollander has published eighteen books of poetry, including Picture Window (2003), as well as five books of criticism. He recently retired as Sterling Professor of English at Yale.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Corporal 1
Elegy 1
Two Men 2
A Mighty Runner 3
Miniver Cheevy 3
Famous Baths and Bathers 5
Elegy 7
Philadelphia 7
Seattle 9
Everything In Its Place 10
On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness 11
The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet 12
The Harmonious Heedlessness of Little Boy Blue 13
The Wrights' Biplane 16
In Dives' Dive 16
In a Poem 16
The song of mehitabel 17
Archy at the zoo 20
from mehitabel's extensive past 22
Ballade of the under side 24
Factory Windows Are Always Broken 27
A Colloquial Reply: To Any Newsboy 27
Niagara 28
Kalamazoo 30
Us Potes 33
Ballade of Schopenhauer's Philosophy 34
The Rich Man 35
To a Thesaurus 35
"Lines Where Beauty Lingers" 37
An Immorality 39
Ancient Music 39
The Naming of Cats 41
Macavity: The Mystery Cat 42
Tannhauser 45
Carmen 48
Rigoletto 50
Pelleas and Melisande 53
Survey of Literature 56
An Unusual Combination in Verses of This Character 58
from The Notebook of a Schnook 61
from Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing 63
from Songs about Life and Brighter Things Yet; A Survey of the Entire Earthly Panorama, Animal, Vegetable and Mineral, with Appropriate Comment by the Author, of a Philosophic, Whimsical, Humorous or Poetic Nature - a Truly Remarkable Undertaking 65
The Sexes 67
Elegy Written in a Country Coal-Bin 68
"A Pre-Raphaelite" 69
Upper family 70
First Fig 72
Second Fig 72
Thusday 72
Grown-Up 73
Ozymandias Revisited 74
Eschatology 74
We Have Been Here Before 75
"A joker who haunts Monticello" 76
Flowers of Rhetoric 76
Ah, To Be In ... 77
Portrait of the Artist 79
Chant for Dark Hours 79
Unfortunate Coincidence 81
Comment 81
Words of Comfort to be Scratched on a Mirror 81
News Item 81
Song of One of the Girls 82
Fighting Words 82
Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom 83
Experience 84
Neigher Bloody Nor Bowed 84
Bohemia 84
Story 85
Frustration 85
Resume 86
One Perfect Rose 86
Ballade at Thirty-Five 87
Healed 88
Pour Prendre Conge 89
Coda 90
The Danger of Writing Defiant Verse 90
The Actress 91
"The way to hump a cow" 92
Obit on Parnassus 94
Sportif 96
History of Education 97
Convalescence 97
Week End Bid I 99
Week End Bid II 99
Lion 100
Marble-Top 102
I Paint What I See 102
Village Revisited 105
Old Story 106
Aphrodite Metropolis (III) 106
Ballad of the Salvation Army 107
Death and Transfiguration of Fourteenth Street 108
Cultural Notes 109
Dirge 111
Spring Comes to Murray Hill 113
Watchman, What of the First First Lady? 114
Please Pass the Biscuit 115
The Termite 116
The Panther 117
A Beginner's Guide to the Ocean 117
Kind of an Ode to Duty 118
No Wonder Our Fathers Died 119
A Necessary Dirge 121
The Private Dining Room 122
What's in a Name? Some Letter I Always Forget 124
Arthur 125
The Song of Songs 125
View from a Suburban Window 128
Trinity Place 128
Why, Some of My Best Friends Are Women 129
Evening Musicale 131
Blues for a Melodeon 132
New England Pilgrimage 133
The Day After Sunday 137
Mr. Rockefeller's Hat 139
To Helen 140
The Princess and the Pea 140
Ballade of Poetic Material 141
Under Which Lyre 143
from Academic Graffiti: "My first name, Wystan" 150
John Milton 150
Oscar Wilde 150
Parable 150
from Uncoupled Couplets 151
The Dover Bitch 152
Handicap 152
It Never Rains ... 154
Firmness 154
From the Grove Press 155
Down There on a Visit 155
"From the bathing machine came a din" 156
"The Proctor buys a pupil ices" 156
Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams 157
La Ville de Nice 158
Above All That? 159
Neo-Classic 159
Tomorrows 160
Japanese Beetles 162
Said ("J. Alfred Prufrock to") 166
Said ("Agatha Christie to") 166
Said ("Dame Edith Evans to") 167
Said ("J. Edgar Hoover to") 167
High Renaissance 168
Working Habits 168
Boston 169
On the Antiquity of Warfare 170
Sources and Acknowledgments 175
Notes 181
Index of Poets, Titles, and First Lines 186
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