Collected Poems [NOOK Book]


This celebratory volume gives us the entire career of Donald Justice between two covers, including a rich handful of poems written since New and Selected Poems was published in 1995. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Justice has been hailed by his contemporary Anthony Hecht as “the supreme heir of Wallace Stevens.” In poems that embrace the past, its terrors and reconciliations, Justice has become our poet of living memory. The classic American melancholy in his titles calls forth the tenor of our collective ...
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Collected Poems

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This celebratory volume gives us the entire career of Donald Justice between two covers, including a rich handful of poems written since New and Selected Poems was published in 1995. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Justice has been hailed by his contemporary Anthony Hecht as “the supreme heir of Wallace Stevens.” In poems that embrace the past, its terrors and reconciliations, Justice has become our poet of living memory. The classic American melancholy in his titles calls forth the tenor of our collective passages: “Bus Stop,” “Men at Forty,” “Dance Lessons of the Thirties,” “The Small White Churches of the Small White Towns.” This master of classical form has found in the American scene, and in the American tongue, all those virtues of our literature and landscape sought by Emerson and Henry James. For half a century he has endeavored, with painterly vividness and plainspoken elegance, to make those local views part of the literary heritage from which he has so often taken solace, and inspiration.

School Letting Out
(Fourth or Fifth Grade)

The afternoons of going home from school
Past the young fruit trees and the winter flowers.
The schoolyard cries fading behind you then,
And small boys running to catch up, as though
It were an honor somehow to be near—
All is forgiven now, even the dogs,
Who, straining at their tethers, used to bark,
Not from anger but some secret joy.

From the Hardcover edition.

Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry

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Editorial Reviews

David Orr
Which brings us again to the question: what could Donald Justice be considered a great example of? The best answer is that he wasn't a great example of anything -- he was, in the end, simply a great poet.
— The New York Times
Michael Dirda
This is a wonderful book, and anyone who cares for poetry will want to buy it and read it.
The Washington Post
Library Journal
The simple title suggests both the heft of the book-which contains all of the work, dating from 1948-and the nature of Justice's poems: nothing fussy or pedantic, just clean, straight, honest writing, gracefully delivered. A fitting memorial to one of America's greats, who died in August 2004. (LJ 10/1/04) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307517883
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/14/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,132,870
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Donald Justice was born in Miami, Florida, in 1925. He was the author of numerous books and the recipient of many grants and prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for his Selected Poems (1979). He taught at several universities, chiefly the University of Iowa and the University of Florida. He lived with his wife in Iowa City until his death in August of 2004.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Nostalgia of the Lakefronts

Cities burn behind us; the lake glitters.
A tall loudspeaker is announcing prizes;
Another, by the lake, the times of cruises.
Childhood, once vast with terrors and surprises,
Is fading to a landscape deep with distance–
And always the sad piano in the distance,

Faintly in the distance, a ghostly tinkling
(O indecipherable blurred harmonies)
Or some far horn repeating over water
Its high lost note, cut loose from all harmonies.
At such times, wakeful, a child will dream the world,
And this is the world we run to from the world.

Or the two worlds come together and are one
On dark, sweet afternoons of storm and of rain,
And stereopticons brought out and dusted,
Stacks of old Geographics, or, through the rain,
A mad wet dash to the local movie palace
And the shriek, perhaps, of Kane's white cockatoo.
(Would this have been summer, 1942?)

By June the city always seems neurotic.
But lakes are good all summer for reflection,
And ours is famed among painters for its blues,
Yet not entirely sad, upon reflection.
Why sad at all? Is their wish so unique–
To anthropomorphize the inanimate
With a love that masquerades as pure technique?

O art and the child were innocent together!
But landscapes grow abstract, like aging parents.
Soon now the war will shutter the grand hotels,
And we, when we come back, will come as parents.
There are no lanterns now strung between pines–
Only, like history, the stark bare northern pines.

And after a time the lakefront disappears
Into the stubborn verses of its exiles
Or a few gifted sketches of old piers.
It rains perhaps on the other side of the heart;
Then we remember, whether we would or no.
–Nostalgia comes with the smell of rain, you know.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Anniversaries 5
Song 7
To a ten-months' child 8
The poet at seven 9
The snowfall 10
Landscape with little figures 11
On the death of friends in childhood 12
The wall 13
A dream sestina 14
Sestina on six words by Weldon Kees 16
Here in Katmandu 18
The metamorphosis 20
Southern gothic 22
Sonnet to my father 23
Beyond the hunting woods 24
Tales from a family album 25
Thus 29
Variations on a theme from James 30
Ladies by their windows 32
Women in love 34
Love's stratagems 35
A map of love 36
Speaking of islands 37
Sonnet about P. 38
Another song 39
In Bertram's garden 40
The stray dog by the summerhouse 41
Anthony St. Blues 43
A winter ode to the old men of Lummus Park, Miami, Florida 44
Counting the mad 45
On a painting by Patient B of the Independence State Hospital for the Insane 46
To Satan in heaven 48
Two sonnets 51
The return of Alcestis 52
Autobiography 53
Two songs from Don Juan in hell 54
The metamorphoses of a vampire 55
Monologue in an attic 56
From bad dreams 57
The furies 62
Orpheus opens his morning mail 65
Time and the weather 66
To the unknown lady who wrote the letters found in the hatbox 67
The grandfathers 68
Dreams of water 69
Ode to a dressmaker's dummy 71
Memory of a porch 72
But that is another story 73
Heart 74
Girl sitting alone at party 75
Party 76
A local storm 77
Variations for two pianos 78
Anonymous drawing 79
To waken a small person 80
American sketches 81
After a phrase abandoned by Wallace Stevens 83
Elsewheres 84
Men at forty 86
Early poems 87
The thin man 88
The missing person 89
The man closing up 91
Hands 94
The evening of the mind 95
For the suicides of 1962 96
The tourist from Syracuse 98
Bus stop 100
Incident in a rose garden 101
In the greenroom 103
At a rehearsal of "Uncle Vanya" 104
Last days of Prospero 106
Memo from the desk of X 108
For a freshman reader 110
To the hawks 112
Poem for a survivor 114
Narcissus at home 115
ABC 123
Fragment : to a mirror 125
A letter 126
A dancer's life 127
Portraits of the sixties 129
Lethargy 134
Luxury 135
The telephone number of the muse 136
Twenty questions 137
On the night of the departure by bus 138
White notes 139
The confession 141
The success 142
The assassination 143
1971 147
Lorcaesques 148
From a notebook 149
Riddle 152
Things 153
An elegy is preparing itself 157
Variations on a text by Vallejo 158
Poem 160
Homage to the memory of Wallace Stevens 162
Sonatina in green 164
Sonatina in yellow 166
Three odes 168
Absences 173
Presences 174
Little elegy 177
First death 178
Two blues 181
Unflushed urinals 183
Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, Texas 184
Memories of the depression years 185
In the attic 187
Thinking about the past 188
Childhood 189
Lines at the New Year 195
Mule team and poster 196
My South 197
American scenes (1904-1905) 200
Nineteenth-century portrait 202
Young girls growing up (1911) 203
Children walking home from school through good neighborhood 205
October : a song 206
Sea wind : a song 207
Last evening : at the piano 208
Psalm and lament 209
In memory of my friend, the bassoonist, John Lenox 211
In memory of the unknown poet, Robert Boardman Vaughn 213
Hell 214
Villanelle at sundown 215
Nostalgia and complaint of the grandparents 216
Cinema and ballad of the Great Depression 218
Manhattan dawn (1945) 220
Nostalgia of the lakefronts 222
Tremayne 224
Mrs. Snow 227
The pupil 228
The piano teachers : a memoir of the thirties 229
After-school practice : a short story 233
The sunset maker 234
On a picture by Burchfield 239
The artist Orpheus 240
Lorca in California 241
A variation on Baudelaire's "La Servante au grand coeur" 243
Invitation to a ghost 245
Vague memory from childhood 246
The Miami of other days 247
On an anniversary 249
A man of 1794 250
Body and soul 252
On a woman of spirit who taught both piano and dance 254
Dance lessons of the thirties 255
Banjo dog variations 256
Pantoum of the Great Depression 260
Sadness 262
Epitaph for a pair of old shoes 267
"Sonya sits at the piano, practicing" 268
The voice of Col. von Stauffenberg ascending through the smoke and dull flames of purgatory 269
Ralph : a love story 270
Couplets concerning time 273
At the young composers' concert 274
School letting out 275
The small white churches of the small white towns 276
A chapter in the life of Mr. Kehoe, fisherman 277
"There is a gold light in certain old paintings" 278
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2006

    A Worthwhile Collection

    Donald Justice writes wonderful poems. They are musical and have deep profound reflections on his childhood and the Great Depression. He writes also about his memories of piano lessons. Simply Amazing. It's a worthwhile collection. His poems focus alot on the past. His poems are accessible and light. I highly recommend him for lovers of poetry.

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