The Way Down

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Overview

"For the sake of contraption (like Frost) and of character (like Robinson), John Burt will do a great deal, and his scope and scansion require a great deal, for his theme is nothing less than the reinvention of heroism (King Mark, Mary of Nazareth, St. Francis, Paolo and Francesca, Ariadne) and the invention of a new heroics (Woodrow Wilson, Willard Gibbs). As attentive to ekphrasis as to the sonnet's narrow room, Burt feels what he knows, and he knows that we can learn from the past only by repeating it. A grand achievement!"--Richard Howard.

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More About This Book

Overview

"For the sake of contraption (like Frost) and of character (like Robinson), John Burt will do a great deal, and his scope and scansion require a great deal, for his theme is nothing less than the reinvention of heroism (King Mark, Mary of Nazareth, St. Francis, Paolo and Francesca, Ariadne) and the invention of a new heroics (Woodrow Wilson, Willard Gibbs). As attentive to ekphrasis as to the sonnet's narrow room, Burt feels what he knows, and he knows that we can learn from the past only by repeating it. A grand achievement!"--Richard Howard.

Almost all these poems are narrative, telling stories that turn on some small but crucial shift of sensibility. One hears in them a speaking rather than a singing voice, a voice which, for all its formality and gravity, remains oral and sociable, a voice which tells things rather than spins charms. Their predominant mood is lucid asperity, sometimes breaking out into the angry Calvinism they always barely keep down, sometimes striving to achieve a humane skepticism that always just eludes them.

The book consists of two sections, one concerned with the cruxes and contradictions of private feeling, the other with the unraveling of the public world. Each section centers on a long narrative poem that culminates the building tensions of the poems that precede it and makes possible the resolutions that follow them.

Sonnet I from "St. Francis and the Wolf" Saved at last, not at the last of me, I knelt two-legged, made of guttural air A little yelp to sound like human prayer. The saints were cautious, understandably.

I took the cup, and managed not to drool, But dreamed the wine was blood, as I'd been taught, And vainly curbed the vain bent of my thought. I knew myself an angel, felt a fool.

Could God have erred in making teeth and maw? Then for his glory I will bite the lamb Whose terror he transmogrifies to awe That I may do his service as I am,

Till as I am I leap the mortal gulf To rage in heaven, a perfected wolf.

Originally published in 1988.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691067278
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/21/1988
  • Series: Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 0.46 (d)

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Great!

    John Burt's "The Way Down" is an amazing book full of poems that will interest any reader. I really love to read poetry books and was a little hesitant to read John Burt's poems, but his poems are awesome and amazing, and were very enjoyable to read. The first section is composed of poems about love that readers of all ages will be able to relate to. The last half of the book is titled " Pueblo Fairgrounds" with a variety of poems for readers of all kinds. This was an excellent book full different uniquely written poems, that different people of all ages and interest will be able to appreciate. As I read through the book, I like how John Burt would be able to take a simple idea, use that idea to write a poem, and through that poem express deeper meanings. While reading John Burt's book "The way Down" he also incorporated into his poems famous people. By doing this a reader will always be able to find some of the poems interesting to them, for example there is a poem about Andrew Ramsay who is a famous geologist, or there is one about Mary of Nazareth, and there is even one about Woodrow Wilson, who was the twenty eight president of the United States. Reading " The was Down" was a very enjoyable experience, people of all ages will be able to connect and enjoy the poems that John Burt has written.

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