The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems

The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems

by John Meade Haines

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Overview

Praise for John Haines

"A writer of rare vision and poetic eloquence."

—Robert Michael Pyle, New York Times Book Review

"Haines has always written with a beautiful ear. His early work distinguished itself by combining lucid images from the natural world with a dreamy inwardness. An imagination of solitude inhabited a solitary landscape; if the sensibility relished an ascetic purity, the body presented itself in the mouth's pleasure of vowel and in the eye's exactness. The later work ... retains these qualities— sense and imagination— while it adds more of the world and more of Haines' rigorous intelligence. He writes with a hard instrument on a hard surface, making no disposable verses."

—Donald Hall, The Nation

"His poems require concentration, rereading, and knowledge beyond what they impart, but the extra effort is richly, religiously rewarded."

—Ray Olson, Booklist

"If one views Haines' poetic development as a journey from the specific geography of the Alaskan wilderness to the uncharted places of the spirit, then that journey is now complete."

—Dana Gioia

Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1924, John Haines studied at the National Art School, the American University, and the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art. He homesteaded in Alaska for over twenty years. He is the author of several major collections of poetry; a collection of reviews, essays, interviews, and autobiography, Living Off the Country (University of Michigan Press, 1981); and a memoir, The Stars, the Snow, the Fire (Graywolf Press, 1989). He has received numerous awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Alaska Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and most recently a Western State Arts Federation Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lenore Marshall/The Nation poetry prize for New Poems 1980-1988 (Story Line Press, 1990). He is currently a freelance writer and teacher and still spends part of each year in Alaska.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555972462
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 10/01/1996
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1924, John Haines studied at the National Art School, the American University, and the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art. He homesteaded in Alaska for over twenty years. He is the author of several major collections of poetry; a collection of reviews, essays, interviews, and autobiography, Living Off the Country (University of Michigan Press, 1981); and a memoir, The Stars, the Snow, the Fire (Graywolf Press, 1989). He has received numerous awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Alaska Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and most recently a Western State Arts Federation Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lenore Marshall/The Nation poetry prize for New Poems 1980-1988 (Story Line Press, 1990). He is currently a freelance writer and teacher and still spends part of each year in Alaska.

Read an Excerpt

The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer


By John Haines

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 1993 John Haines
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-246-2


Chapter One

The Snowbound City I believe in this stalled magnificence, this churning chaos of traffic, a beast with broken spine, its hoarse voice hooded in feathers and mist; the baffled eyes wink amber and slowly darken. Of men and women suddenly walking, stumbling with little sleighs in search of Tibetan houses- dust from a far-off mountain already whitens their shoulders. When evening falls in blurred heaps, a man losing his way among churches and schoolyards feels under his cold hand the stone thoughts of that city,

impassable to all but a few children who went on into the hidden life of caves and winter fires, their faces glowing with disaster. Cicada I sank past bitten leaves, tuning in a shell my song of the absent and deaf. And that pain came alive in the dark, shot with the torment of seeds, root-ends and wiry elbows.

II A whisper, dry and insane, repeating like a paper drum something I was, something I might become:

a little green knife slitting the wind upstairs, or a husk in the sod. III It was late summer in the grass overhead. I wanted wings and a voice, my own tree to climb,

and someone else to answer, clear across loud acres of sun. The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer Nothing bestial or human remains in all the brass and tin that we strike and break and weld. Nothing of the hand-warmed stone made flesh, of the poured heat filling breast, belly, and thigh. The craft of an old affection that called by name the lion shape of night, gave rain its body

and the wind its mouth-the owl in the mask of the dreamer, one of the animal stones asleep ... By tinker and by cutting torch reduced to a fist of slag, to a knot of rust on a face of chrome. So, black dust of the grinding wheels, bright and sinewy curl of metal fallen beneath the lathe: Speak for these people of drawn wire striding toward each other over a swept square of bronze. For them the silence is loud and the sunlight is strong. No matter how far they walk they will never be closer.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer by John Haines Copyright © 1993 by John Haines. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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