The Darkness and the Light: Poemsby Anthony Hecht
The poetry of Anthony Hecht has been praised by Harold Bloom and Ted Hughes, among others, for its sure control of difficult material and its unique music and visual precision. This new volume is the fruit of a mellowing maturity that carries with it a smoky bitterness, a flavor of ancient and experienced wisdom, as in this stanza from “Sarabande on Attaining the Age of Seventy-seven”:
A turn, a glide, a quarter-turn and bow,
The stately dance advances; these are airs
Bone-deep and numbing as I should know by now,
Diminishing the cast, like musical chairs.
Hecht’s verse—by turns lyric and narrative, formal and free—is grounded in the compassion that comes from a deep understanding of every kind of human depredation, yet is tempered by flashes of wry comedy, and still more by innocent pleasure in the gifts of the natural world. Followers of his poetry will recognize an evolution of style in many of these poems—a quiet and understated voice, passing through darkness toward realms of delight.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- 6.17(w) x 8.65(h) x 0.49(d)
Read an Excerpt
How simple the pleasures of those childhood days,
Simple but filled with exquisite satisfactions.
The iridescent labyrinth of the spider,
Its tethered tensor nest of polygons
Puffed by the breeze to a little bellying sail--
Merely observing this gave infinite pleasure.
The sound of rain. The gentle graphite veil
Of rain that makes of the world a steel engraving,
Full of soft fadings and faint distances.
The self-congratulations of a fly,
Rubbing its hands. The brown bicameral brain
Of a walnut. The smell of wax. The feel
Of sugar to the tongue: a delicious sand.
One understands immediately how Proust
Might cherish all such postage-stamp details.
Who can resist the charms of retrospection?
Copyright© 2001 by Anthony Hecht.
Meet the Author
Anthony Hecht is the author of seven books of poetry, among them The Hard Hours, which received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1968, and, more recently, Flight Among the Tombs. In 1984 he received the Eugenio Montale Award for lifetime achievement in poetry, and in 2000 the Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. He has written a critical study of the poetry of W. H. Auden, and On the Laws of the Poetic Art (Andrew W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts). He taught for some years at Bard College, the University of Rochester and Georgetown University, and now lives in Washington, D.C.
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Hecht's verse is always a pleasure to read. You see his intelligence, formal skill, and love of language in his poems. 'Nocturne' is Hecht's succesful villanelle, which is one of my favorite formal types of poems, and when it is well done, and it is well done here, it can be one of the most successful forms of poetry. bravo mr. hecht. 'Sacrifice' also sticks out in the book. it is a poem in three parts, juxtaposing the story of abraham and isaac with an incident in 1945, which is just chilling. hecht has several successful translations. I was dissapointed in the lack of war poems, which few do better than hecht, and the overabundance of religous poems. the dual picture on the cover lead me to believe that the subject of this collection would be both wwii and religion. i would hope next time knopf would do better in designing the cover.