The Avenue Bearing The Initial Of Christ Into The New World


This newly assembled volume draws from two books that were originally published in Galway Kinnell's first two decades of writing, WHAT A KINGDOM IT WAS (1960), which included the poem "The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World," and FLOWER HERDING ON MOUNT MONADNOCK (1964). Kinnell has revised some of the work in this new edition, and comments on his working method in a prefatory note.

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This newly assembled volume draws from two books that were originally published in Galway Kinnell's first two decades of writing, WHAT A KINGDOM IT WAS (1960), which included the poem "The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World," and FLOWER HERDING ON MOUNT MONADNOCK (1964). Kinnell has revised some of the work in this new edition, and comments on his working method in a prefatory note.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618219124
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST MARINE
  • Pages: 158
  • Sales rank: 1,427,763
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Galway Kinnell is a former MacArthur Fellow and has been state poet of Vermont. In 1982 his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. For many years he was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University. He is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. For thirty-five years—from WHAT A KINGDOM IT WAS to THE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES to THREEE BOOKS—Galway Kinnell has been enriching American poetry, not only by his poems but also by his teaching and his powerful public readings.

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Read an Excerpt

Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock


I can support it no longer.
Laughing ruefully at myself For all I claim to have suffered I get up. Damned nightmarer!

It is New Hampshire out here, It is nearly the dawn.
The song of the whippoorwill stops And the dimension of depth seizes everything.


The whistlings of a peabody bird go overhead Like a needle pushed five times through the air, They enter the leaves, and come out little changed.

The air is so still That as they go off through the trees The love songs of birds do not get any fainter.


The last memory I have Is of a flower that cannot be touched,

Through the bloom of which, all day, Fly crazed, missing bees.


As I climb sweat gets up my nostrils, For an instant I think I am at the sea,

One summer off Cap Ferrat we watched a black seagull Straining for the dawn, we stood in the surf,

Grasshoppers splash up where I step, The mountain laurel crashes at my thighs.


There is something joyous in the elegies Of birds. They seem Caught up in a formal delight, Though the mourning dove whistles of despair.

But at last in the thousand elegies The dead rise in our hearts, On the brink of our happiness we stop Like someone on a drunk starting to weep.


I kneel at a pool, I look through my face At the bacteria I think I see crawling through the moss.

My face sees me, The water stirs, the face, Looking preoccupied, Gets knocked from its bones.


I weighed eleven pounds At birth, having stayed on Two extra weeks in the womb.
Tempted by room and fresh air I came out big as a policeman, Blue-faced, with narrow red eyes.
It was eight days before the doctor Would scare my mother with me.

Turning and craning in the vines I can make out through the leaves The old, shimmering nothingness, the sky.


Green, scaly moosewoods ascend, Tenants of the shaken paradise,

At every wind last night’s rain Comes splattering from the leaves,

It drops in flurries and lies there, The footsteps of some running start.


From a rock A waterfall, A single trickle like a strand of wire, Breaks into beads halfway down.

I know The birds fly off But the hug of the earth wraps With moss their graves and the giant boulders.


In the forest I discover a flower.

The invisible life of the thing Goes up in flames that are invisible, Like cellophane burning in the sunlight.

It burns up. Its drift is to be nothing.

In its covertness it has a way Of uttering itself in place of itself, Its blossoms claim to float in the Empyrean,

A wrathful presence on the blur of the ground.

The appeal to heaven breaks off.
The petals begin to fall, in self-forgiveness.
It is a flower. On this mountainside it is dying.

Copyright 1953, 1954, © 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1970, 1971, 1974, 2002 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Table of Contents


Author’s Note vii What a Kingdom It Was

Part I

First Song 5 First Communion 6 To Christ Our Lord 8 The Wolves 10 Westport 12

Part II

At the Reading of a Poet’s Will 17 Lilacs 18 A Toast to Tu Fu 19 Easter 20 For William Carlos Williams 22 For the Lost Generation 23 Leaping Falls 24 Promontory Moon 26 Gothic Slide 28 Earth-Sparrow 29 Rain over a Continent 30 Reply to the Provinces 31 Near Barbizon 32 Duck-Chasing 33 For Ruth 34 In a Parlor Containing a Table 35 Guillaume de Lorris 36 Toward the Wilderness 37

Part III

The Schoolhouse 41 Seven Streams of Nevis 44 The Descent 47 Where the Track Vanishes 51 Freedom, New Hampshire 55 The Supper After the Last 60

Part IV

The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World 67 Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock

Part I

The River That Is East 91 The Homecoming of Emma Lazarus 94 Old Arrivals 97 Calcutta Visits 98 Doppelgänger 99 To a Child in Calcutta 100 Kyoto Prints 102 Koisimi Buddhist of Altitudes 104 Room of Return 105 For Denise Levertov 106 Under the Williamsburg Bridge 107 For Robert Frost 108

Part II

Tillamook Journal 115 On Hardscrabble Mountain 119 On Frozen Fields 121 In Fields of Summer 122 A Bird Comes Back 123 Cells Breathe in the Emptiness 124 Poem of Night 125 Nightfall of the Real 127 Middle of the Way 129 Ruins Under the Stars 132 Tree from Andalusia 135 Spindrift 136 Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock 140

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