Tesserae: And Other Poems

Overview

The first new volume in five years by the distinguished poet-teacher and MacArthur Fellow, of whose last collection, Harp Lake, Harold Bloom has written, "It confirms his authentic eminence, comparable in my judgment to that of Merrill, Ashbery, Ammons and only a few others in his own generation of American poets." The long and very beautiful title sequence, "Tesserae," winds its way through the book, embracing a varied and fascinating collection of lyrics, narratives, puzzles, and translations. It confirms the ...
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Overview

The first new volume in five years by the distinguished poet-teacher and MacArthur Fellow, of whose last collection, Harp Lake, Harold Bloom has written, "It confirms his authentic eminence, comparable in my judgment to that of Merrill, Ashbery, Ammons and only a few others in his own generation of American poets." The long and very beautiful title sequence, "Tesserae," winds its way through the book, embracing a varied and fascinating collection of lyrics, narratives, puzzles, and translations. It confirms the poet's reputation for dazzling ingenuity, technical brilliance, and erudition of a delightful kind, as when in "The See-Saw" he mocks, by way of nursery rhyme, one of the sillier statements of Hegel: "Of the remedies acting primarily on the body, the see-saw especially has proved efficacious, especially with raving lunatics. The see-saw movement induces giddiness in the patient and loosens his fixed ideas." John Hollander's Selected Poetry is published simultaneously with Tesserae. It provides a generous overview of a marvellous body of work spanning the thirty years from Hollander's first collection, A Crackling of Thorns, chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, to Harp Lake, published in 1988.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The poems in Hollander's 12th book of poetry, published simultaneously with his Selected Poetry , exhibit technical mastery, including rhyme and word play, but lack heart. They do not pulse with that ``white heat'' that Dickinson termed necessary for poetry. On the plus side, MacArthur Award Winner Hollander is skilled in the use of playful language. Consider his description of a New England river: ``Connect . . . and Cut--those things all rivers do.'' The title poem is a reflection on death: ``I who have walked in light now make my bed/ In the dark of which there's nothing to be said.'' It takes up about half the collection but for some reason has been subdivided, one part placed in each section of the book between other poems and thus detracting from the poem's mood and narrative drive. Other poetry topics include an old counting game, early inscriptions, and a painting by Edward Hopper. Not an essential purchase.-- Doris Lynch, Monroe Ctny. P.L., Bloomington, In.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679422228
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/6/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 89
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Table of Contents

An Old-Fashioned Song 3
An Old Counting-Game 4
Song at the End of a Meal 5
Making Nothing Happen 6
Behind the Beaux-Arts 7
Colored Illustration, Tipped-In 8
Edward Hopper's Seven A.M. 10
The Tesserae, I 11
Ballad for an Old Tune, No Refrain 21
Bread and Butter 25
10/28/29 27
From Out of the Black 29
Into the Black 29
Air for the Musette 30
The Tesserae, II 31
Perseus Holds Medusa's Head Aloft 41
Cissy's Song 42
Green-Shadowed Rocks 44
Far Away 45
Early Inscription 47
The Week's Events 49
Selected Short Subjects 51
February Madrigal 53
The Tesserae, III 54
River Remembered 65
Variations on a Fragment by Trumbull Stickney 69
On North Rock 70
The See-Saw 75
The Tesserae, IV 78
Notes 86
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