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Dollars, dolors. Callings and contrivances. King Zulu. Comus.
Sephardic ju-ju and verses. Voodoo mojo, Special Forces.
Henry formed a group named Professor Longhair and his
Shuffling Hungarians. After so much renunciation
And invention, is this the image of the promised end?
All music haunted by all the music of the dead forever.
Becky haunted forever by Pearl the daughter she abandoned
For love, O try my tra-la-la, ma la belle, mah walla-woe.
--from "Gulf Music"
An improvised, even desperate music, yearning toward knowledge across a gulf, informs Robert Pinsky's first book of poetry since Jersey Rain (2000).
On the large scale of war or the personal scale of family history, in the movements of people and cultures across oceans or between eras, these poems discover connections between things seemingly disparate.
Gulf Music is perhaps the most ambitious, politically impassioned, and inventive book by this major American poet.
Posted February 9, 2009
Before a rapt audience, Robert Pinsky recently stepped to the podium of the Fullerton Room of the venerable Art Institute of Chicago. He acknowledged the richness of the place and the art itself 21st century Chicago has become. With his uncommon grace and usual dignity, the former Poet Laureate of the United States hesitate, looked around the filled to capacity auditorium, paused, and began,<BR/><BR/> I drowned in the fire of having you, I burned<BR/> In the river of not having you, we lived<BR/> Together for hours in a house of a thousand rooms<BR/> And we were parted for a thousand years.<BR/> Ten minutes ago we raised our children who cover<BR/> The earth and have forgotten that we existed<BR/><BR/> It was not maya, it was not a ladder to perfection,<BR/> It was this cold sunlight falling on this warm earth.<BR/><BR/> When I turned you went to Hell. When your ship<BR/> Fled the battle I followed you and lost the world<BR/> Without regret but with stormy recriminations.<BR/> Someday far down that corridor of horror the future<BR/> Someone who buys this picture of you for the frame<BR/> At a stall in a dwindled city will study your face<BR/> And decide to harbor it for a little while longer<BR/> From the waters of anonymity, the acids of breath<BR/><BR/>Then silence. And caught in my seat by the crashes of his verse, I heard Pinsky say, ¿ `Antique¿, from Gulf Music, it¿s the second to last poem in the book.¿ Almost whimsically he continued, ¿I was angry at the time I wrote it. I was angry with, with Bush, and Cheney, and Gonzales, and our foreign policy. Then it just became something else. It evolved into something else.¿ More silence. And from what I could tell, no one exhaled.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.