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The three long poems -- “Bel Canto,” “Possible World,” and “A Memoir” -- in this brilliant ...
The three long poems -- “Bel Canto,” “Possible World,” and “A Memoir” -- in this brilliant successor to New Addresses are ambitious attempts at rendering the complete story of a life. Taken together they present a dazzling picture of the pleasures and confusions of existence, as well as the pleasures and difficulties of expressing them.
Other poems bring Koch’s questioning, lyrical attention to more particular aspects of experience, real and imagined—a shipboard meeting, the Moor not taken, or the unknowable realm of mountaintops. As in all of Koch’s work, one hears the music of unconquerable exuberance in stormy conflict with whatever resists it—death, the injustice of power, the vagaries of life in Thailand, China, or Rome.
Thomas Disch has written in the Boston Book Review that “Koch is the most capable technician on the American scene, the brightest wit, and the emeritus most likely to persist into the next millennium . . . His work is full of ribaldry and wit, musicianship, pitch-perfect mimicry of the Great Tradition, and the celebration of pleasure for its own sunlit sake.”
The ebullience and stylistic variety that one has come to expect of this protean poet is everywhere present in this scintillating collection.
From the Hardcover edition.
Les morts vont vite, the dead go fast, the next day absent!
Et les vivants sont dingues, the living are haywire.
Except for a few who grieve, life rapidly readjusts itself
The milliner trims the hat not thinking of the departed
The horse sweats and throws his stubborn rider to the earth
Uncaring if he has killed him or not
The thrown man rises. But now he knows that he is not going,
Not going fast, though he was close to having been gone.
The day after Caesar’s death, there was a new, bustling Rome
The moment after the racehorse’s death, a new one is sought for the stable
The second after a moth’s death there are one or two hundred other moths
The month after Einstein’s death the earth is inundated with new theories
Biographies are written to cover up the speed with which we go:
No more presence in the bedroom or waiting in the hall
Greeting to say hello with mixed emotions. The dead go quickly
Not knowing why they go or where they go. To die is human,
To come back divine. Roosevelt gives way to Truman
Suddenly in the empty White House a brave new voice resounds
And the wheelchaired captain has crossed the great divide.
Faster than memories, faster than old mythologies, faster than the speediest train.
Alexander of Macedon, on time!
Prudhomme on time, Gorbachev on time, the beloved and the lover on time!
Les morts vont vite. We living stand at the gate
And life goes on.
From the Hardcover edition.
|A Momentary Longing to Hear Sad Advice from One Long Dead||9|
|A Schoolroom in Haiti||12|
|The Expansive Water||13|
|La Ville de Nice||14|
|Behavior in Thailand||16|
|On the Acropolis||19|
|A Changing China||25|
|Day and Night in Kuala Lumpur||27|
|To a Bug||49|
|Variations at Home and Abroad||52|
|A Big Clown-Face-Shaped Cloud||57|
|Roma non basta una vita||58|
|The Moor Not Taken||69|
|Thor Not Taken||70|
|Primus Inter Pares||72|
|Barking Dogs in the Snow||75|
Posted August 22, 2012
Owleyes stretched beside the warriors' den, then followed Thunderstar across the clearing. Fireheart padded out of his den and stared wistfully at the thorn barrier. Ashfur hopped out after him. "Are you going to the Gathering?" Fireheart shrugged. "Not tonight." A gust of wind rattled the thornbush. "Let's go." Thunderstar pushed into the brambles. "There's more rain coming, it may be a short Gathering." The patrol pounded up the slope as Thunderstar followed the trail to the forest's edge. Pelts flashed between brambles. Hollyleaf's paws slithered on wet leaves. As Honeyfern steadied her with a flick of her tail, a ginger pelt caught the edge of her vision. Hollyleaf turned to see Runningwind fall in beside her, his feet skimming the ground as he matched her paw step for paw step. She pushed harder to pull ahead. The ginger warrior seemed to be there every time she looked over her shoulder. She veered around a bramble, sliding across his path so he had to let her take the lead. She reached the top of the slope before him and, breaking from the trees, stared down at the lake. "Tired already?" Sweetpaw pulled up beside her. "I'm not!" Honeyfern mewed as she pelted past them, skidding down the slope after her Clanmates. Hollyleaf pulled ahead, down the short path onto the rocky pebbles. She raced after the patrol, keeping her eyes fixed on the ground. They reached the tree-bridge that spanned the water between the shore and the island. Hanging back, she let her Clanmates cross first. The air was thick with scents from every Clan. Hollyleaf nosed her way out of the grass. The clearing was swarming with pelts. Faces turned as ThunderClan padded out from the grass. Hollyleaf followed her Clan past the staring faces and halted beside Honeyfern and Swiftbreeze. Thunderstar shouldered his way through in front of them, heading for the Great Oak. Owleyes joined Gorseclaw and all the other deputies at the bottom. Hollyleaf scanned the rows of faces, searching for Fallen Leaves. Three medicine cats, Runningnose, Mothflight, and Brambleberry were gathered below the oak. Flametail paced in front of them, lashing his tail. Hollyleaf glanced at Whitestorm. "He looks like he wants Jayfeather to visit so he can start a fight." She felt hot breath on her ear and turned to find Russetfur leaning close. "Murderers deserve to be punished!" Hollyleaf turned on her, bristling. "Jayfeather is not a murderer!" She defended the living ThunderClan deputy. Leopardfur stepped between them. "Why isn't he at the real Gathering then? She challenged Hollyleaf. "Too guilty to show his whiskers?" Whitestorm barged Leopardfur away with his shoulder. "Stay close to your Clanmates Hollyleaf," he warned. "Some cats don't seem to realize there's a truce." He glanced at the round full moon hanging over the island. A cloud hung across it like a smear of a cobweb.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.