About the Author:
Robert Hass is the author of two earlier collections of poems, Field Guide and Praise, and a book of essays, Twentieth Century Pleasures. He has also collaborated with Czeslaw Milosz on the translation of his poems, most recently Collected Poems. His many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur fellowship and the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. He has taught for many years at St. Mary's College of California and is currently a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
A man thinks lilacs against white houses, having seen them in the farm
country south of Tacoma in April, and can't find his way to a sentence, a
brushstroke carrying the energy of brush and stroke
--as if he were stranded on the aureole of the memory of a woman's
and she, after the drive from the airport and a chat with her mother and a
shower, which is ritual cleansing and a passage through water to
had walked up the mountain on a summer evening.
Away from, not toward. As if the garden roses were a little hobby of the
dead. As if the deer pellets in the pale grass and the wavering moon and
the rondure--as they used to say, upping the ante--of heaven
were admirable completely, but only as common nouns of a plainer
intention, moon, shit, sky,
as if spirit attended to plainness only, the more complicated forms
exhausting it, tossed-off grapestems becoming crystal chandeliers,
as if radiance were the meaning of meaning, and justice responsible to
daydream not only for the strict beauty of denial,
but as a felt need to reinvent the inner form of wishing.
Only the force of the brushstroke keeps the lilacs from pathos--the hes
and shes of the comedy may or may not get together, but if they are to get
then the interval created by if, to which mind and breath attend, nervous
as the grazing animals the first brushes painted,
has become habitable space, lived in beyond wishing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Postmodern poetry presents a fragmented vision of life. Generally, I abhor the stretched and difficult metaphors that signify this kind of poetry. Hass appeared on the reading list for a class I am taking, so ignoring it or not reading was not an option. I read some of these poems several times, and many of the metaphors did not make any sense to me. I could not even find one poem I really liked, that was memorable, or that I would want to pin to a bulletin board. He served as poet laureate of the US in the late 90s, but guess what? Sometimes the emperor has no clothes. Don¿t waste you time or your money. Read Billy Collins. 1 star for one poem, ¿Spring Drawing,¿ which did have some nice, intelligible images.--Jim, 8/23/09