Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations

Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations

by Peter Cole


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Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations by Peter Cole

“[Peter Cole’s] poetry is perhaps most remarkable for its combination of intellectual rigor with delight in surface, for how its prosody returns each abstraction to the body, linking thought and breath, metaphysics and musicality. Religious, erotic, elegiac, pissed off—the affective range is wide and the forms restless.” —Ben Lerner, BOMB

Hymns & Qualms brings together MacArthur Fellow Peter Cole’s acclaimed poetry and translations, weaving them into a helical whole. Praised for his “prosodic mastery” and “keen moral intelligence” (American Poets), and for the “rigor, vigor, joy, and wit” of his poetry (The Paris Review), Cole has created a vital, unclassifiable body of work that plumbs centuries of wisdom while paying sharp attention to the textures and tensions of the present. He is, Harold Bloom writes, “a matchless translator and one of the handful of authentic poets in his own American generation. Hymns & Qualms is a majestic work, a chronicle of the imaginative life of a profoundly spiritual consciousness.”

Cole is a maker—of poems and worlds. From his earliest registrations of the Jerusalem landscape’s stark power to electric renderings of mystical medieval Hebrew hymns; from his kabbalistically inspired recent poems to sensuous versions of masterworks of Muslim Spain; and from his provocative presentation of contemporary poetry from Palestine and Israel to his own dazzling reckonings with politics, beauty, and the double-edged dynamic of influence, Cole offers a ramifying vision of connectedness. In the process, he defies traditional distinctions between new and old, familiar and foreign, translation and original—“as though,” in his own words, “living itself were an endless translation.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374537708
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,060,957
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Peter Cole was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1957. He has published several books of poems and many volumes of translations from Hebrew and Arabic, both medieval and modern. He has received numerous honors for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and in 2007 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xii

I New Poems, New Translations

Every Single Person 3

Through the Slaughter 4

It's in Me 7

What the Beard Said 8

August 9

Nothing Has Taken Me 14

Where the Lemon Trees Bloom 16

The Unsure Moralist 17

What the Beard Said, II 18

Open for Business 20

Sounds in the Grasses 26

For a Theophoric Figure 28

Writing on the Wall 29

"Have you seen the rain?" 30

They've Gone 31

On Givenness 32

II Translations: Late Antiquity

To Rise On High 35

From Whose Beauty the Depths 36

Hymn to the Heralds 37

Each Day 38

FROM The Book of Creation 39

A Byzantine Diptych 41

III From the Invention of Influence (2014)

On Being Partial 45

Song of the Shattering Vessels 46

Quatrains for a Calling 48

FROM A Palette 51

FROM Actual Angels 52

More for Santob 55

Being Led 59

FROM The Invention of Influence: An Agon 60

What Is 104

IV Translations: 11th Century

Gazing Through the Night 109

The Gazelle 111

The Apple 112

FROM On the Death of His Brother 113

FROM After Proverbs 115

The Market 118

FROM After Ecclesiastes 120

Truth Seekers Turn 123

The Garden 124

Winter with Its Ink 126

The Altar of Song 127

Heart's Hollow 128

I Love You 129

Before My Being 130

Three Things 131

You Lie in My Palace 132

Angels Amassing 133

FROM Kingdom's Crown 135

V From Things on Which I've Stumbled (2008)

Improvisation on Lines by Isaac the Blind 143

FROM Notes on Bewilderment 144

Valent(L)ines for A. 148

The Ghazal of What He Sees 149

FROM Things on Which I've Stumbled 150

Coexistence: A Lost and Almost Found Poem 159

Palestine: A Sestina 161

Israel Is 163

FROM What Has Been Prepared 164

The Ghazal of What Hurt 170

VI Translations: 12th-18th Centuries

Weak with Wine 173

Let Man Remember 174

On Seeing Herself in the Mirror 175

A Riddle 176

A Dove in the Distance 177

A Coat 179

HOW It Is 180

Three Poems on Love for the World 181

Sweet and Sour 182

Composition 183

Generational Joust 184

The Hypocrite's Beard 186

Spats and Squabbles 187

To Whom Among the Avengers of Blood 188

The Nut Garden 190

She Said She Wanted 191

Tomorrow I'll Write 192

Two Lessons 193

Peace Be Upon You 194

Hymn for the Third Meal 195

Why, My Desire 198

In the Valley of Ishmael 199

Song of You 201

VII From Hymns & Qualms (1998)

FROM Speech's Hedge 205

News That Stays 218

Of Pigs and Worms 220

Qualms: Some Proverbs 221

Kharja/ Closure 223

Suite for Santob 224

(Tuning) Hooks 230

VIII Translations: 20th-21st Centuries

Bring Me In Under Your Wing 233

FROM The Pool 234

A Few Say: 237

Blessed Are Those 238

From Year to Year 239

To Put It Differently 240

Warning 241

Abd El-Hadi Fights a Superpower 242

Twigs 244

Tea and Sleep 246

Revenge 248

The Beginning of Wisdom 251

FROM Lowell 252

Here 253

FROM Love 254

The Prayer Book 257

The Reason to Live Here 258

Culture 260

Passover, 2002 261

Rypin 262

IX From Rift (1989)

Torches 267

Rift 268

Leviticus 289

Alphabet 301

X From a Notebook for Poetry (2013) 305

Acknowledgments 317

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