The World below the Window: Poems 1937-1997

Overview

This selection of William Jay Smith's work of sixty years covers the entire career of one of America's acknowledged poetic masters. It moves from the dark pre-war lyrics ( Quail in Autumn) to the powerful long-lined free verse of the 1960s ( The Tin Can). Here are memorable WWII lyrics ( Dark Valentine) and masterful light verse ( The Tall Poets), displaying the wit that enlivens all of Smith's work. Previously uncollected poems range from a haunting delineation of the ironies of age in "The Shipwreck" to the ...

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Overview

This selection of William Jay Smith's work of sixty years covers the entire career of one of America's acknowledged poetic masters. It moves from the dark pre-war lyrics ( Quail in Autumn) to the powerful long-lined free verse of the 1960s ( The Tin Can). Here are memorable WWII lyrics ( Dark Valentine) and masterful light verse ( The Tall Poets), displaying the wit that enlivens all of Smith's work. Previously uncollected poems range from a haunting delineation of the ironies of age in "The Shipwreck" to the dramatic intensity of The Cherokee Lottery, which deals with the forced removal of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi.

Praise for William Jay Smith:

"A most gifted and original poet... One of the very few who cannot be confused with anybody else."—Richard Wilbur

"William Jay Smith has been one of our best poets for more than sixty years, and The Cherokee Lottery is his masterwork: taut, harrowing, eloquent, and profoundly memorable."—Harold Bloom

"His best poems are unlike anything else in contemporary American literature... Although often based on realistic situations, Smith's compressed, formal lyrics develop language musically in a way which summons an intricate, dreamlike set of images and associations."—Dana Gioia

"William Jay Smith has given us many of the truest and purest poems an American has written: the most resonantly musical, the most magical."—X. J. Kennedy

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Editorial Reviews

The Atlantic Monthly

The World below the Window... provides a welcome and generous retrospective of Smith's 'adult' work, which from its beginning has been defined by a passionate and deeply informed commitment to traditional rhymed metrical-stanzaic forms... That Smith has written poems replete with rhythm, rhyme, wit, and melody... is cause for celebration, homage, and gratitude.

— Elizabeth Frank

Memphis Commercial Appeal

The World below the Window: Poems 1937-1997 offers work by a very serious poet indeed. Serious, but not ponderous, never pretentious. Smith's career has been devoted to the poetry of ordinary events, deep feelings, and clarity. His touch is light and bittersweet; he plays the black keys adroitly without neglecting the call of mundane joys... we would be diminished without the music and melancholy of such sweet lines.

— Fredric Koeppel

Dana Gioia
His best poems are unlike anything else in contemporary American literature . . . Although often based on realistic situations,Smith's compressed,formal lyrics develop language musically in a way which summons an intricate,dreamlike set of images and associations.
Elizabeth Frank
The World below the Window . . . provides a welcome and generous retrospective of Smith's 'adult' work,which from its beginning has been defined by a passionate and deeply informed commitment to traditional rhymed metrical-stanzaic forms . . . That Smith has written poems replete with rhythm,rhyme,wit,and melody . . . is cause for celebration,homage,and gratitude.
The Atlantic Monthly
Fredric Koeppel
The World below the Window: Poems 1937-1997 offers work by a very serious poet indeed. Serious,but not ponderous,never pretentious. Smith's career has been devoted to the poetry of ordinary events,deep feelings,and clarity. His touch is light and bittersweet; he plays the black keeys adroitly without neglecting the call of mundane joys . . . we would be diminished without the music and melancholy of such sweet lines.
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Harold Bloom
William Jay Smith has been one of our best poets for more than sixty years,and The Cherokee Lottery is his masterwork: taut,harrowing,eloquent,and profoundly memorable.
Richard Wilbur
A most gifted and original poet . . . One of the very few who cannot be confused with anybody else.
X. J. Kennedy
William Jay Smith has given us many of the truest and purest poems an American has written: the most resonantly musical,the most magical.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Author of more than fifty books of poetry, children's verse, literary criticism, translation, and memoirs, and editor of several influential anthologies, William Jay Smith served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now called Poet Laureate) from 1968 to 1970. His memoir, Army Brat, was praised by Eudora Welty and Ralph Ellison, among many others, and his translations have won awards from the French Academy, the Swedish Academy, and the Hungarian government. Two of his thirteen collections of poetry were final contenders for the National Book Award. Professor Emeritus of English at Hollins University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he divides his time between Cummington, Massachusetts, and Paris.

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