Selected Poems of Robert Duncan

Overview

This second edition of the late Robert Duncan's Selected Poems, first published in1993, includes eleven additional poems and excerpts. Duncan, like Dante, was a poet of cosmic imagination, intensely aware of his and poetry's role in the ever-expanding logos of creation. His Selected Poems, first published in 1993, is a "useful and portable compilation," says critic Tom Clark, that "provides the most comprehensive available look at the career of the Bay Area's greatest lyric poet." Editor Robert J. Bertholf has ...
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Overview

This second edition of the late Robert Duncan's Selected Poems, first published in1993, includes eleven additional poems and excerpts. Duncan, like Dante, was a poet of cosmic imagination, intensely aware of his and poetry's role in the ever-expanding logos of creation. His Selected Poems, first published in 1993, is a "useful and portable compilation," says critic Tom Clark, that "provides the most comprehensive available look at the career of the Bay Area's greatest lyric poet." Editor Robert J. Bertholf has enlarged the original collection to include eleven additional poems and excerpts. The second edition of the Selected Poems fully fleshes out the retrospective of works chosen from the whole of Duncan's writing life. From his early poems through his final Ground Work volumes, as well as his serial poems, "Structures of Rime" and "Passages," composed over the course of thirty years, there emerges a prophetic voice of great perception.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Duncan (1919-1987) was one of the true masters of contemporary American poetry. His oeuvre is by turns lyrical, experimental, archaic, visionary and political. His most innovative works (``Structure of Rime'' and ``Passages'') have been epic in nature and interspersed among shorter poems throughout several volumes, so that it has been virtually impossible to get a sense of his full poetic powers without reading his mature books, from 1960 on, in order. Bertholf's selections are so attuned to the essentials of Duncan's ( Ground Work: Before the War ; Roots and Branches ) writing--the idiosyncratic spellings, the attention and respect given the muses, the horrific sense of war--that even those familiar with the whole body of Duncan's work will become more sensitized to his recurring imagery and consistency of thought pattern through this collection. ``Writing is first a search in obedience,'' he says in a relatively early poem. And, varying this concept in one of his final poems, written during a long, painful illness: ``What Angel, what Gift of the Poem, has brought into my / body / this sickness of living?'' In Bertholf's brief, insightful introduction, he makes necessary connections between the often-neglected early work and the later masterpieces. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Duncan, who died in 1987 with over 40 books and chapbooks to his name, is often linked with Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and other stars of the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s. Such associations tend to dilute the importance of this writer, whose ambitious, idiosyncratic poems stand on their own. They are as classically elegant as they are starkly avant-garde, as erotic as they are intellectual, and they are almost always beautiful to the ear. Duncan is particularly celebrated for his love poems, which are well represented here. The most beautiful, perhaps, is ``The Torso Passages 18,'' which ends: ``Gathering me, you gather/ yourself/ for my other is not a woman but a man/ the king upon whose bosom let me lie.'' Robert Bertholf's short introduction emphasizes Duncan's eclectic range, his interest in painting and philosophy as well as poetry, and his dedication to the art. Long overdue, this collection is a fine introduction to Duncan; one does, however, hope for a ``complete works.''-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
Booknews
A retrospective of the mystical modernist's work chosen from the whole course of his writing life. Published by New Directions Publishing Corp., 80 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811212274
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/28/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Passage Over Water 1
The Years as Catches 1
"Among My Friends Love Is a Great Sorrow" 5
I Am a Most Fleshly Man 5
The Dreamers 8
The Helmet of Goliath 9
The Banners 11
The Kingdom of Jerusalem 12
The Festivals 13
The Mirror 14
The Reaper 16
The Adoration of the Virgin 17
Huon of Bordeaux 18
The Albigenses 20
The Song of the Borderguard 22
A Poem in Stretching 23
Poetry Disarranged 24
A Book of Resemblances 25
Salvages: An Evening Piece 26
The Beginning of Writing 28
Imagining in Writing 29
Writing as Writing 31
Descriptions of Imaginary Poetries 33
For a Muse Meant 35
Upon Taking Hold 38
First Invention of the Theme of the Adam 40
The Human Communion. Traces 41
Source 42
Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow 44
The Structure of Rime I 45
The Structure of Rime II 46
The Structure of Rime IV 47
The Structure of Rime VI 47
This Place Rumord to Have Been Sodom 48
The Ballad of the Enamord Mage 49
The Maiden 51
Poetry, a Natural Thing 53
A Poem Beginning With a Line by Pindar 54
The Structure of Rime XI 62
The Structure of Rime XIII 62
Roots and Branches 64
Nel Mezzo Del Cammin Di Nostra Vita 64
1 "How Lovely All That Glitters" 67
2 "It Must Be That Hard to Believe . . ." 67
3 "Madrone Tree That Was My Mother" 69
4 "Let Sleep Take Her . . ." 69
Structure of Rime XVI 70
Structure of Rime XVII 71
After Reading H.D.'s Hermetic Definitions 72
Structure of Rime XX 75
Bending the Bow 77
Tribal Memories, Passages 1 78
The Architecture, Passages 9 80
The Fire, Passages 13 82
"My Mother Would Be a Falconress" 88
The Torso, Passages 18 90
Up Rising, Passages 25 92
Stage Directions, Passages 30 94
Achilles' Song 100
The Concert, Passages 31 102
Before the Judgment, Passages 35 105
Bring It Up from the Dark 114
In Memoriam Wallace Stevens: Structure of Rime XXVIII 115
Everything Speaks to Me 116
Of Empire 117
The Household 119
Circulations of the Song 121
The Sentinels 132
In Waking 133
In Blood's Domaine (Passages) 136
Illustrative Lines 139
After a Long Illness 141
Index of Titles 145
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