Sun Under Wood

Overview

Robert Hass demonstrates once again the unmistakable intelligence and original voice that have won him both literary acclaim and the affection of a broad general readership. Here Hass extends and deepens his ongoing explorations of nature and human history, solitude, and the bonds of children, parents, and lovers. Here his passion for apprehending experience with language--for creating experience with language--finds supple form in poems that embrace all that is alive and full of joy. Sun Under Wood is the most ...

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Overview

Robert Hass demonstrates once again the unmistakable intelligence and original voice that have won him both literary acclaim and the affection of a broad general readership. Here Hass extends and deepens his ongoing explorations of nature and human history, solitude, and the bonds of children, parents, and lovers. Here his passion for apprehending experience with language--for creating experience with language--finds supple form in poems that embrace all that is alive and full of joy. Sun Under Wood is the most impressive collection yet from one of our most accomplished poets.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hass is Poet Laureate of the United States, a position through which he has worked to enlarge the cultural presence of poetry. Much the same ends are served in his new collection, which contains a remarkable range of themes and styles, all of them generous-hearted and friendly of access. Although Hass's work can be positioned somewhere between the rural lyricism of William Stafford and the precise, Zen-like economies of Gary Snyder, he seems, most of all, a California poet. There is a distinctive ease and optimism to his poetic attentions, and his voice is as comfortable musing about ethnicity as it is detailing marital peccadilloes or extolling the allure of "my mother's nipples." In this, his first volume since 1989's Human Wishes, Hass shows that he can write a perfect sonnet "Sonnet", but seems to revel more in an idiosyncratic free-form of blank verse broken by sharp apercus. Hass is careful not to allow his poems to be reducible or predictable. Most remarkable in this collection is "Faint Music," in which the poet attempts "a poem about grace," and then wanders through a meditation on self-love, an anecdote about a failed suicide, an infidelity and porch sounds at night. In the end, the poet concludes, "the sequence helps, as much as order helps/ First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing." Such quirky, imaginative incarnations of grace are all we need ask of a poet or a laureate. 20,000, first printing. Oct.
Library Journal
Like Robert Frost, Gary Synder, and the haiku masters before them, current U.S. Poet Laureate Hass The Essential Haiku, Ecco, 1995 discerns in nature's random blossomings and processes a "beauty unconscious of itself," all the more attractive for its autonomy. Combining an almost Zen tranquility of expression with a naturalist's eye "Creekstones practicing the mild yoga of becoming smooth.", Hass seems engaged in "an activity of incessant discovery" whether he's meditating on a surprised raccoon, the circumstances surrounding a divorce, or a parent's debilitating alcoholism. "It is good sometimes," he writes coyly, "that poetry should disenchant us," an ironic observation given his specialand subversivetalent for disenchanting the reader at the moment of deepest enchantment, knowing that "We live half our lives/ in fantasy, and words." Though he often strives for a lyricist's concision, Hass will let his poems wash widely into prose "My Mother's Nipples" if necessary, as if the urgency of his thought refuses containment. For the fourth time, he has given us a disarming, disturbing, memorable book of poems. Recommended for all collections.Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880015578
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hass was born in San Francisco. His books of poetry include The Apple Trees at Olema (Ecco, 2010), Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Time and Materials (Ecco, 2008), Sun Under Wood (Ecco, 1996), Human Wishes (1989), Praise (1979), and Field Guide (1973), which was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Hass also co-translated several volumes of poetry with Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz and authored or edited several other volumes of translation, including Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer's Selected Poems (2012) and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994). His essay collection Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984) received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in California with his wife, poet Brenda Hillman, and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Read an Excerpt

Happiness

Because yesterday morning from the steamy
window we saw a pair of red foxes across the creek
eating the last windfall apples in the rain --
they looked up at us with their green eyes
long enough to symbolize the wakefulness of living things
and then went back to eating --

and because this morning
when she went into the gazebo with her black pen and yellow pad
to coax an inquisitive soul
from what she thinks of as the reluctance of matter,
I drove into town to drink tea in the cafe
and write notes in a journal -mist rose from the bay
like the luminous and indefinite aspect of intention,
and a small flock of tundra swans
for the second winter in a row was feeding on new grass
in the soaked fields; they symbolize mystery, I suppose,
they are also called whistling swans, are very white,
and their eyes are black --

and because the tea steamed in front of me,
and the notebook, turned to a new page,
was blank except for a faint blue idea of order,

Sun Under Wood. Copyright © by Robert Hass. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Happiness 3
Our Lady of the Snows 5
Dragonflies Mating 6
My Mother's Nipples 12
The Gardens of Warsaw 23
Layover 25
Notes on "Layover" 27
The Woods in New Jersey 30
Iowa City: Early April 32
A Note on "Iowa City: Early April" 36
Sonnet 38
Faint Music 39
Forty Something 42
Shame: An Aria 43
Regalia for a Black Hat Dancer 47
Jatun Sacha 59
Frida Kahlo: In the Saliva 61
English: An Ode 62
The Seventh Night 71
Interrupted Meditation 73
Notes 77
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