Field of Light and Shadow: Selected and New Poems [NOOK Book]

Overview

A career-spanning volume from one of our most valuable living American poets, offering poems that display an exquisite ear tuned to the natural world, to love and friendship, and to the continually renewable possibilities of language. David Young’s settings are at once local and universal—an adolescence in Omaha, late summer on Lake Erie, a sleepless night in the backyard during a meteor shower. He moves with dazzling ease between culture and nature, between the literary and the philosophical, microcosm and ...
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Field of Light and Shadow: Selected and New Poems

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Overview

A career-spanning volume from one of our most valuable living American poets, offering poems that display an exquisite ear tuned to the natural world, to love and friendship, and to the continually renewable possibilities of language. David Young’s settings are at once local and universal—an adolescence in Omaha, late summer on Lake Erie, a sleepless night in the backyard during a meteor shower. He moves with dazzling ease between culture and nature, between the literary and the philosophical, microcosm and macrocosm. Here are poems on Osip Mandelstam and Chairman Mao, the meaning of boxcars on the track, the beautiful names of the months, and a fox at the field’s edge, charged in each case by Young’s fierce intelligence and candor in the face of grief and loss.

“We float through space. Days pass,” Young writes in “The Portable Earth-Lamp.” “Sometimes we know we are part of a crystal / where light is sorted and stored.” His metaphysical reach, balancing remarkable humility with penetrating vision, is one of the great gifts of this exemplary career in poetry.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Young rose to some fame during the 1970s, a slightly belated but undeniably talented inheritor of the Deep Image style: his short poems and free verse sequences relied on quick leaps between landscapes and memories, moments of nostalgia and episodes of transcendence. Also known as a prolific translator from the Chinese, Young has grown clearer and calmer, more receptive to the literal, over the decades, as this second selected shows. “When the dead walk, do they need to use their feet?” one early sequence asked; “Vermont Summer” offers instead “A trefoil in the hand, a meteor trail/ crossing the retina, a black and glinting/ tart-sweet berry in the mouth.” The long “Night Thoughts” takes its name from a famous 18th-century poem, its structure from an insomniac’s hour-counting: “I’m the sleight-of-hand man still/ here in this summer sunrise.” Young’s awareness of literary precursors and allies saturates the poems: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Spenser, Miroslav Holub, Wallace Stevens, Henry Vaughan, James Wright are a few of the writers addressed or described. Yet the late poems (including nine new ones) seek instead the simplest possible pleasures--equanimity, companionship, and ease: “Then I remember to breathe again/ and the blue snow shines inside me.” (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307599612
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/31/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

David Young is the author of ten previous books of poetry, including Black Lab and At the White Window. He is a well-known translator of the Chinese poets and of the poems of Petrarch. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships as well as a Pushcart Prize, he is the Longman Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing at Oberlin College and the editor of the Field Poetry Series at Oberlin College Press.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Three Time-Trips

1.
My shoes crush acorns.
I’m thirty-nine I’m seven.
Far down the yard
my father and a neighbor
sail horseshoes through the air.

The clank and settle.

And the past I thought would dwindle
arcs back to me, a hoop.

The men wipe their necks,
the boy walks round the oak:
sometimes our lives rust gently,
a long-handled shovel, leaned
against a sun-warmed wall.


2.
Fourteen, I perch on the wicker seat
in a nimbus of misery, love’s shrimp,
hearing the streetcar’s crackle and hiss
as the drugstore turns on its corner.

And what was real? The whipped sparks,
the glove puppets, bobbing, the pocket dreams,
this poem-to-be,my father’s wharf
of set belief, the wicker and shellac?

Learning to be imperfect—
that’s erudition!

Like coolies in flooded fields,
we wade on our own reflections.

3.
November bleach and brownout. Acid sky,
falsetto sunlight, wire and fluff of weeds, pods,
bone and paper grass-clumps. The dog bounds off,
stitching the field with her nose. Hound city.

It’s thirteen years. Different dog, same field,
and double grief: dull for the slumped president,
stake-sharp for my friend’s ripped heart—faint
night-cries in the mansions where we lived.

But the bullet grooves are gone, the first dog’s dead,
and here is the field, seedy and full of sameness.
Speech fails, years wrinkle. Dream covers dream

that covered dream. My head starts up a jazz
I never could concoct. I have to grin. On the cold pond
the tinsmith wind is whistling at his work.

The Portable Earth-Lamp

The planet on the desk, illuminated globe
we ordered for Bo’s birthday,
sits in its Lucite crescent, a medicine ball
of Rand McNally plastic. A brown cord
runs from the South Pole toward a socket.

It’s mostly a night-light for the boys,
and it blanches their dreaming faces,
a blue sphere patched with continents,
mottled by deeps and patterned currents,
its capital cities bright white dots.

Our models: they’re touching and absurd,
magical both for their truth and falsehood.

I like its shine at night. Moth-light.
I sleepwalk toward it, musing.
This globe’s a bible, a bubble of mythlight,
a blue eye, a double
bowl: empty of all but its bulb and clever skin,
full of whatever we choose to lodge there.

I haven’t been able to shake off all my grief,
my globe’s cold poles and arid wastes,
the weight of death, disease and history.
But see how the oceans heave and shine,
see how the clouds and mountains glisten!

We float through space. Days pass.
Sometimes we know we are part of a crystal
where light is sorted and stored,
sharing an iridescence
cobbled and million-featured.

Oh tiny beacon in the hurting dark.
Oh soft blue glow.


Faux Pas

The fox paused at the field’s edge, paw raised,
looked back and switched her tail, the way
a thrush will flutter among maple leaves—
that’s when I thought of you, choosing
your words, taking your careful steps,
sleeping so restlessly.
Our distance is not so much miles
as years and memories, mine such leafy compost
I shake my head, too full of duff and humus
to get a bearing or a fix. Foxfire, that weird
by-product of wood-decay, pulses in me today . . .
And look: after the vixen left, trailing a faint rank scent,
a freight passed slowly, flatcars in mizzling rain,
some of them loaded with truck trailers, some not,
objects that no more need attention than you need
waste time upon my lurching, coupled feelings.
Go with the fox—I send a sort of blessing
as gulls lift off the reservoir and day,
a spreading bruise against the western rim,
drains January and the freshened year.

Mother’s Day

for my children
I see her doing something simple, paying bills,
or leafing through a magazine or book,
and wish that I could say, and she could hear,

that now I start to understand her love
for all of us, the fullness of it.

It burns there in the past, beyond my reach,
a modest lamp.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

from Sweating Out the Winter

Late Summer: Lake Erie 3

The Man Who Swallowed a Bird 4

More About Skills 5

Segal 6

Poem About Hopping 7

Two Renewal Poems 8

Nineteen Sixty-Three 9

from Boxcars

The Boxcar Poem 13

Three for the Moon 14

Homing 16

In Heaven 20

Mandelstam 21

Thoughts of Chairman Mao 25

Ohio 28

Love Song 30

Chromos 31

A Calendar: The Beautiful Names of the Months 34

Teddy Roosevelt 37

Woodrow Wilson 38

from Water Diary 39

from Work Lights: Thirty-Two Prose Poems

The Poem Against the Horizon 45

Four About the Letter P 46

Four About Heavy Machinery 48

Four About Metaphysics 50

Four About Mummies 52

Kohoutek 54

from The Names of a Hare in English

Two Views of the Cathedral 57

Nineteen Forty-Four 58

"Other Forms Were Near": Five Words 60

How Music Began 62

Three Time-Trips 63

One Who Came Back 65

The Day Nabokov Died 66

Occupational Hazards 68

The Picture Says 69

Jaywalker 71

Tool Talk 73

After My Death 74

A Lowercase Alphabet 75

The Fool's Tale 77

from The Names of a Hare in English 78

from Foraging

In My Own Back Yard 87

A Ghost, to One Alive 90

Mesa Verde 91

October Couplets 96

Basho 99

Six Ghosts 103

The Self: A Sonnet Sequence 105

Hunting for Mushrooms in Orange County 111

Elegy in the Form of an Invitation 113

Vermont Summer: Three Snapshots, One Letter 115

Three Walks 118

from Earthshine

The Moon-Globe 123

Nine Deaths 124

from Poem in Three Parts 136

The Portable Earth-Lamp 157

from The Planet on the Desk

Visionary's Ghazal 161

Root Vegetable Ghazal 162

Easter Ghazal 163

Bird Ghazal 164

Hamlet Ghazal 165

Worship Ghazal 166

from Night Thoughts and Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan 169

from Night Thoughts 174

Midnight 174

One a.m. 181

Two a.m. 188

Four a.m. 194

Five a.m. 196

from At the White Window

Poem for Adlai Stevenson and Yellow Jackets 203

Wind, Rain, Light 205

Lessons in Metaphysics 207

My Mother at Eighty-Eight 208

Landscape with Grief Train 209

My Father at Ninety-Four 210

Landscape with Wolves 211

Landscape with Bees 212

Chopping Garlic 217

Dinner Time 218

That Spring 219

At the White Window 221

The Snow Bird 222

Midwestern Families 223

Phenomenology for Dummies 225

Four Songs on a Bone Flute 226

Lullaby for the Elderly 229

The House Was Quiet on a Winter Afternoon 230

from Black Lab

Walking Around Retired in Ohio 233

Black Labrador 235

January 3, 2003 236

Putting My Father's Ashes in the Cemetery at Springville, Iowa 237

At the Little Bighorn 238

Christmas: Ohio and Capolungo 239

Eating a Red Haven Peach in the Middle of August in Ohio 240

Dawn on the Winter Solstice 241

Faux Pas 242

Sally and the Sun 243

Blake's "Dante and Virgil Penetrating the Forest" (1824) 245

Late Celan Variations 246

February 1, 2003 248

Walking Home on an Early Spring Evening 249

I Wear My Father 250

Chloe in Late January 251

The Secret Life of Light 252

The Dream of the Moving Statue 256

Yoshitoshi 257

March 10, 2001 258

Swithin 259

The Hour of Blue Snow 260

New Poems

Why I Translate 263

The Merry-Go-Round 265

Mother's Day 266

Quick Takes 267

One Hundred Billion Neurons in My Brain 269

Occasional Sonnets 271

Reasons for Living 276

Poem at Seventy 277

Graveyard 285

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First Chapter

Field of Light and Shadow

Selected and New Poems
By David Young

Knopf

Copyright © 2010 David Young
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307593399

Three Time-Trips

1.
My shoes crush acorns.
I’m thirty-nine I’m seven.
Far down the yard
my father and a neighbor
sail horseshoes through the air.

The clank and settle.

And the past I thought would dwindle
arcs back to me, a hoop.

The men wipe their necks,
the boy walks round the oak:
sometimes our lives rust gently,
a long-handled shovel, leaned
against a sun-warmed wall.


2.
Fourteen, I perch on the wicker seat
in a nimbus of misery, love’s shrimp,
hearing the streetcar’s crackle and hiss
as the drugstore turns on its corner.

And what was real? The whipped sparks,
the glove puppets, bobbing, the pocket dreams,
this poem-to-be,my father’s wharf
of set belief, the wicker and shellac?

Learning to be imperfect—
that’s erudition!

Like coolies in flooded fields,
we wade on our own reflections.

3.
November bleach and brownout. Acid sky,
falsetto sunlight, wire and fluff of weeds, pods,
bone and paper grass-clumps. The dog bounds off,
stitching the field with her nose. Hound city.

It’s thirteen years. Different dog, same field,
and double grief: dull for the slumped president,
stake-sharp for my friend’s ripped heart—faint
night-cries in the mansions where we lived.

But the bullet grooves are gone, the first dog’s dead,
and here is the field, seedy and full of sameness.
Speech fails, years wrinkle. Dream covers dream

that covered dream. My head starts up a jazz
I never could concoct. I have to grin. On the cold pond
the tinsmith wind is whistling at his work.

The Portable Earth-Lamp

The planet on the desk, illuminated globe
we ordered for Bo’s birthday,
sits in its Lucite crescent, a medicine ball
of Rand McNally plastic. A brown cord
runs from the South Pole toward a socket.

It’s mostly a night-light for the boys,
and it blanches their dreaming faces,
a blue sphere patched with continents,
mottled by deeps and patterned currents,
its capital cities bright white dots.

Our models: they’re touching and absurd,
magical both for their truth and falsehood.

I like its shine at night. Moth-light.
I sleepwalk toward it, musing.
This globe’s a bible, a bubble of mythlight,
a blue eye, a double
bowl: empty of all but its bulb and clever skin,
full of whatever we choose to lodge there.

I haven’t been able to shake off all my grief,
my globe’s cold poles and arid wastes,
the weight of death, disease and history.
But see how the oceans heave and shine,
see how the clouds and mountains glisten!

We float through space. Days pass.
Sometimes we know we are part of a crystal
where light is sorted and stored,
sharing an iridescence
cobbled and million-featured.

Oh tiny beacon in the hurting dark.
Oh soft blue glow.


Faux Pas

The fox paused at the field’s edge, paw raised,
looked back and switched her tail, the way
a thrush will flutter among maple leaves—
that’s when I thought of you, choosing
your words, taking your careful steps,
sleeping so restlessly.
Our distance is not so much miles
as years and memories, mine such leafy compost
I shake my head, too full of duff and humus
to get a bearing or a fix. Foxfire, that weird
by-product of wood-decay, pulses in me today . . .
And look: after the vixen left, trailing a faint rank scent,
a freight passed slowly, flatcars in mizzling rain,
some of them loaded with truck trailers, some not,
objects that no more need attention than you need
waste time upon my lurching, coupled feelings.
Go with the fox—I send a sort of blessing
as gulls lift off the reservoir and day,
a spreading bruise against the western rim,
drains January and the freshened year.

Mother’s Day

for my children
I see her doing something simple, paying bills,
or leafing through a magazine or book,
and wish that I could say, and she could hear,

that now I start to understand her love
for all of us, the fullness of it.

It burns there in the past, beyond my reach,
a modest lamp.

Continues...

Excerpted from Field of Light and Shadow by David Young Copyright © 2010 by David Young. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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