Orphan Hours: Poems

Overview

“Combines stateliness, formal beauty and emotional urgency in rich and musical tapestries of language. . . . Every poem . . . is masterful.”—Washington Post

Orphan Hours is a book of reconciliation, of coming to terms with time in its most personal and memorable manifestations, and of learning the wisdom of what cannot be changed. The urgency of the elegy has been absorbed by...

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Orphan Hours

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Overview

“Combines stateliness, formal beauty and emotional urgency in rich and musical tapestries of language. . . . Every poem . . . is masterful.”—Washington Post

Orphan Hours is a book of reconciliation, of coming to terms with time in its most personal and memorable manifestations, and of learning the wisdom of what cannot be changed. The urgency of the elegy has been absorbed by an acceptance of the detail, texture, and small moments that constitute and enrich mortality.

from “Lapsed Meadow"

I remember, in Ohio, fields of wastes of nature,

lost pasture, fallow clearings, buckwheat

and fireweed and broken sparrow nests,

especially in the summer, in the fading hilltop sun,

when you could lose yourself by simply lying down.

Who will find you, who will call you home now, at dusk,

with the dry tips of the goldenrod confused

with a little wind, filling in what’s left of the light.

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Editorial Reviews

Dallas Morning News
“Plumly is a master of tone. His ‘I’ is not noisy, not flashy, not there to steal the show. The ‘I’ of his poems is intent on seeing something other than the self: bird, sky, tree, leaf. . . . Each poem invites you.””
The Washington Post
Stanley Plumly…combines stateliness, formal beauty and emotional urgency in rich and musical tapestries of language…every poem in Orphan Hours is masterful, and I hope this collection helps bring Plumly, one of our best poets, the wider attention he has deserved for a long time.
—Troy Jollimore
Library Journal
In his tenth collection (after Old Heart), Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Plumly explores memory, relationships, and the mystery of death in language both accessible and informed by a humanist's view of the world. He excels at descriptions of the natural world—"When I heard the crows, like raven-geese, rending the/ dark,/ filling the falling snow with wings"— and indeed wildness is celebrated throughout ("Wild has its skills"). The long poem "Lost Key" offers a series of sonnetlike sequences that covers many topics: a wild bird, a stranger seen in London, the poet's mother reading, and a painter's descriptions of clouds. Nearly every poem resonates with emotional truth; most touching is a compelling poem about the inevitability of loss as a son wakes in the middle of the night to find his father staring into the dark. Occasionally, Plumly creates a clunky metaphor or uses a stale phrase, but turn the page and you will find words that surprise you with their originality: "To walk out of this flesh, leave the body of the bones./ To undress utterly…" VERDICT A collection by a skilled master, not to be missed for the beauty of its language and its compelling worldview.—Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393346626
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/7/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,422,486
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Plumly’s many awards include the Delmore Schwartz and William Carlos Williams Awards and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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