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Old Heart

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Stanley Plumly's masterful eighth collection—wherein he confronts and celebrates mortality—was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry.In this collection, Stanley Plumly confronts and celebrates mortality—in the detailed natural world, in the immediacy of the loss of friends, and in personal encounters. Archetypal, sometimes even allegorical, the poems in Old Heart amount to a sustained meditation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters declared of Plumly that "he has in the last thirty years quietly, ...

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0393065685 0393065685 The Barnes & Noble Review Wallace Stevens taught us that "Death is the mother of beauty." Mortality hovers over Stanley Plumly's tenth book, lending it a ... veiled and subtle beauty. Butterflies slip "through more molting lives / than saints --"; elsewhere "spirit birds" fly through "The spirit world the negative of this one; / soft outlines of soft whites against soft darks"; the narrator's own mother lies becalmed on hard white sheets, the narrative of legs, arms, animal centers stilled, some starlight in the mind glittering off and on, couldn't tell me whether or not to leave her The keystone sequence, "Elevens" -- comprising eleven poems, of eleven lines each -- takes us straight into the heart of mortality's dilemma. The poet's own "old heart" reveals itself, "lit up on the screen, / the arteries, veins and ventricles." Plumly centers his poetry inside the embodied world -- air, snow, mountains, trees, grass, animals, insects. His lines have a sinuous and subtle beauty, like smoke. Y ... Read more Show Less

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2007 Hardcover New 0393065685 0393065685 The Barnes & Noble Review Wallace Stevens taught us that "Death is the mother of beauty." Mortality hovers over Stanley Plumly's tenth ... book, lending it a veiled and subtle beauty. Butterflies slip "through more molting lives / than saints--"; elsewhere "spirit birds" fly through "The spirit world the negative of this one; / soft outlines of soft whites against soft darks"; the narrator's own mother lies becalmed on hard white sheets, the narrative of legs, arms, animal centers stilled, some starlight in the mind glittering off and on, couldn't tell me whether or not to leave her The keystone sequence, "Elevens"--comprising eleven poems, of eleven lines each--takes us straight into the heart of mortality's dilemma. The poet's own "old heart" reveals itself, "lit up on the screen, / the arteries, veins and ventricles." Plumly centers his poetry inside the embodied world--air, snow, mountains, trees, grass, animals, insects. His lines have a sinuous and subtle beauty Read more Show Less

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Overview

Stanley Plumly's masterful eighth collection—wherein he confronts and celebrates mortality—was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry.In this collection, Stanley Plumly confronts and celebrates mortality—in the detailed natural world, in the immediacy of the loss of friends, and in personal encounters. Archetypal, sometimes even allegorical, the poems in Old Heart amount to a sustained meditation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters declared of Plumly that "he has in the last thirty years quietly, steadily, expanded the range of lyric poetry in English...[and] reinvigorated our poetry." His ethical rigor and literary modesty combine in Old Heart—his finest book of poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The eighth gathering of poems from Plumly (Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me) offers many beauties but few surprises. Onrushing, almost whispering, pentameters, divided into lyric meditations, depict the winters, summers, springs, snows, fogs, skies and greenery of Europe and of the American East Coast, where Plumly resides. We see "a winter city, night city, streetlights/ blurred in mist" (Prague); "glittering halves of oyster shells"; "first crocuses and the lavender called redbud" blooming on a college campus; even, in one poem called "Pastoral," the "complexities of leaves,/ the umbels, whorls, bracts, and involucres." Plumly remains as much a poet of elegy as he is a poet of nature: odes and memorials to other poets, living and dead, show "how we all change with time but don't." Plumly can seem morbid, or bathetic, as in a sonnet called "When He Fell Backwards into His Coffin," about a corpse found in a bathtub; he can also seem content with mere prettiness, speaking nothing but "Summer's/ language like sunlight on stone, light itself the stone." Yet Plumly has admirers for good reason: few poets have sounded so often so comfortable at once with the recollections and strong emotions involved in autobiography, and with attention to a beautiful natural world. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Washington Post Book - Robert Pinsky
“Plumly's rich, assured new book includes poems about poets of his own generation, living and dead, and of the past....The interplay between words and reality, mortal imagination and the lasting world, shimmers in these poems.”
Robert Pinsky - Washington Post Book
“Plumly's rich, assured new book includes poems about poets of his own generation, living and dead, and of the past....The interplay between words and reality, mortal imagination and the lasting world, shimmers in these poems.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Wallace Stevens taught us that "Death is the mother of beauty." Mortality hovers over Stanley Plumly's tenth book, lending it a veiled and subtle beauty. Butterflies slip "through more molting lives / than saints --"; elsewhere "spirit birds" fly through "The spirit world the negative of this one; / soft outlines of soft whites against soft darks"; the narrator's own mother lies
becalmed on hard white sheets,
the narrative of legs, arms,
animal centers stilled,
some starlight in the mind glittering off and on, couldn't tell me

whether or not to leave her

The keystone sequence, "Elevens" -- comprising eleven poems, of eleven lines each -- takes us straight into the heart of mortality's dilemma. The poet's own "old heart" reveals itself, "lit up on the screen, / the arteries, veins and ventricles." Plumly centers his poetry inside the embodied world -- air, snow, mountains, trees, grass, animals, insects. His lines have a sinuous and subtle beauty, like smoke. Yet they light up again and again in pure radiance. Poets speak to one another across time and space in their poetry. In Old Heart, Plumley converses with Pound, Stevens, Eliot, and Keats, and with his contemporaries: Donald Justice, Michael Collier, Henri Cole. As the list suggests, this is a curiously masculine book, like Melville's Ishmael adrift on the sea. It is also wide-rangingly philosophical, understated, modest, and, ultimately, hauntingly exquisite. --Liz Rosenberg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393065688
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Plumly is the author of many volumes of poetry as well as a biography, Posthumous Keats. The winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among other honors, he lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2007

    National Book Award Nominee

    This capstone volume by an outstanding American poet was recently nominated for the National Book Award. Elegant, alert, and wise, these poems are informed by a lifetime of careful observation and masterly attention to the art of poetry.

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