The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of

The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine

The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of

The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine


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When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay Ryan in 2011. And at the same time, Poetry continues to discover the new voices who will be read a century from now.

Poetry’s archives are incomparable, and to celebrate the magazine’s centennial, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman combed them to create a new kind of anthology, energized by the self-imposed limitation to one hundred poems. Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive—or even to offer the most familiar works—they have assembled a collection of poems that, in their juxtaposition, echo across a century of poetry. Adrienne Rich appears alongside Charles Bukowski; poems by Isaac Rosenberg and Randall Jarrell on the two world wars flank a devastating Vietnam War poem by the lesser-known George Starbuck; August Kleinzahler’s “The Hereafter” precedes “Prufrock,” casting Eliot’s masterpiece in a new light. Short extracts from Poetry’s letters and criticism punctuate the verse selections, hinting at themes and threads and serving as guides, interlocutors, or dissenting voices.

The resulting volume is an anthology like no other, a celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention, a vital monument to an institution that refuses to be static, and, most of all, a book that lovers of poetry will devour, debate, and keep close at hand.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226104010
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 08/14/2013
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 818,770
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Don Share, senior editor of Poetry¸ is a poet and the author, editor, or translator of numerous books. Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry from 2003 to 2013, is the author of three books of poetry, a volume of essays, and a memoir.

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2012 The Poetry Foundation
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-75070-5

Chapter One

      In a Station of the Metro

    The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
    Petals on a wet, black bough.

      April 1913

      KAY RYAN
      Sharks' Teeth

    Everything contains some
    silence. Noise gets
    its zest from the
    small shark's-tooth
    shaped fragments
    of rest angled
    in it. An hour
    of city holds maybe
    a minute of these
    remnants of a time
    when silence reigned,
    compact and dangerous
    as a shark. Sometimes
    a bit of a tail
    or fin can still
    be sensed in parks.

      April 2004


    I explain ontology, mathematics, theophily,
    Symbolic and Aristotelian logic, says the tree.

    I demonstrate perspective's and proportion's ways.
    I elucidate even greyness by my greys and greys and greys.

    Gravity's laws, the four dimensions, Sapphic imagery,
    Come from contemplating me,
    Says the tree.

    I perfectly exhibit the functions of earth and air:
    Look up, at and through, my branches, leaved, budded, or bare
    Laid in their luminous degrees against lustrous infinity:
    Your seeing relates you to all of space, through me.
    Here's aesthetics, too. No sight's nearer to perfectly fair.
    I am mediate and immediate, says the tree.

    I am variable, exquisite, tough,
    Even useful; I am subtle; all this is enough.
    I don't want to be a temple, says the tree.
    But if you don't behave, I will be.

      March 1958

      The Young

    You bastards! It's all sherbet, and folly
    makes you laugh like mules. Chances
    dance off your wrists, each day ready,

    sprites in your bones and spite not yet
    swollen, not yet set. You gather handful
    after miracle handful, seeing straight,

    reaching the lighthouse in record time,
    pockets brim with scimitar things. Now
    is not a pinpoint but a sprawling realm.

    Bewilderment and thrill are whip-quick
    twins, carried on your backs, each vow
    new to touch and each mistake a broken

    biscuit. I was you. Sea robber boarding
    the won galleon. Roaring trees. Machines
    without levers, easy in bowel and lung.

    One cartwheel over the quicksand curve
    of Tuesday to Tuesday and you're gone,
    summering, a ship on the farthest wave.

      December 2008

      Valéry as Dictator

    Sad. And it comes
    tomorrow. Again, grey, the streaks
    of work
    shedding the stone
    of the pavement, dissolving
    with the idea
    of singular endeavour. Herds, the
    of suffering intelligences
    and out of
    hearing. Though the day
    come to us
    in waves,
    sun, air, the beat
    of the clock.
    Though I stare at the radical
    wishing it would stand still.
    Tell me,
    and I gain at the telling.
    Of the lie, and the waking
    against the heavy breathing
    of new light, dawn, shattering
    the naive cluck
    of feeling.
    What is tomorrow
    that it cannot come

      December 1963

Don't be "viewy"—leave that to the writers of pretty little philosophic essays. Don't be descriptive; remember that the painter can describe a landscape much better than you can, and that he has to know a deal more about it.

EZRA POUND, March 1913

I would trade the bulk of contemporary anecdotal free verse for more incisive, chilling poetry.... There's more pathos in a poetry that recognizes the universe is central; the poor human, eccentric.

ANGE MLINKO, October 2007

      Eros Turannos

    She fears him, and will always ask
      What fated her to choose him;
    She meets in his engaging mask
      All reasons to refuse him;
    But what she meets and what she fears
    Are less than are the downward years,
    Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs
      Of age, were she to lose him.

    Between a blurred sagacity
      That once had power to sound him,
    And Love, that will not let him be
      The seeker that she found him,
    Her pride assuages her, almost,
    As if it were alone the cost.
    He sees that he will not be lost,
      And waits, and looks around him.

    A sense of ocean and old trees
      Envelops and allures him;
    Tradition, touching all he sees
      Beguiles and reassures him;
    And all her doubts of what he says
    Are dimmed with what she knows of days,
    Till even prejudice delays,
      And fades—and she secures him.

    The falling leaf inaugurates
      The reign of her confusion;
    The pounding wave reverberates
      The crash of her illusion;
    And home, where passion lived and died,
    Becomes a place where she can hide,—
    While all the town and harbor side
      Vibrate with her seclusion.

    We tell you, tapping on our brows,
      The story as it should be,—
    As if the story of a house
      Were told, or ever could be;
    We'll have no kindly veil between
    Her visions and those we have seen,—
    As if we guessed what hers have been
      Or what they are, or would be.

    Meanwhile, we do no harm; for they
      That with a god have striven,
    Not hearing much of what we say,
      Take what the god has given;
    Though like waves breaking it may be,
    Or like a changed familiar tree,
    Or like a stairway to the sea,
      Where down the blind are driven.

      March 1914

      It Was a Bichon Frisé's Life ...

    Louisiana skies paddle north nodding hello to some exiles
    displaced by floodwaters so we all putter in the bisque
    in fretted dresses, alleviated by a fan. But we have nothing on

    "Le Matin," in whose rococo frame a curtain sweeps to bare
    a boudoir, a Bichon Frisé worrying something between paws,
    begging the dulcet glance of the mistress whose push-up,

    cupless corset and up-drawn stocking border what they
    fall short of, per the stern frame rippling like a cloud!
    Even the candle angles to get a look in the mirror

    engloving the scene. Why it is her slipper the bitch clutches!
    The gentleman's reverie is elsewhere ... Loitering
    Louisiana stops to admire this engraving by "N. Lavreinee."

    What a chevalier! It makes the smeariest sunset think
    it's in a Restoration Comedy, in such humidity
    chefs defer meringues. "Ksar Rouge," "Taos Adobe,"

    "Gulf Shrimp"—a thousand names of softboiled
    lipsticks fritter English as if it were French, meaning
    meeting no resistance from the flesh.

      June 2008


    The world is full of loss; bring, wind, my love,
      my home is where we make our meeting-place,
      and love whatever I shall touch and read
      within that face.

    Lift, wind, my exile from my eyes;
      peace to look, life to listen and confess,
      freedom to find to find to find
      that nakedness.

      October 1941

      The Hereafter

    At the gates to the Hereafter,
    a rather drab affair, might as well be a union hall
    in south Milwaukee, but with shackled
    sweating bodies along the walls,
    female, chiefly, and not at all miserable,
    straining like bored sultanas at their fetters,
    each of them singing a separate song.
    A Semitic chap—the greeter, I suppose—
    gives me the quick once-over
    and most amused he seems to be. Has me figured.
    Not unlike a gent I met only last week,
    a salesman at a stereo shop on Broadway.
    —So, he says. Nothing more.
    —Sew buttons, says I, in a cavalier mood
    and why not.
      Ushers me into a tiny cinema,
    a two-seater, really quite deluxe,
    a great big Diet Coke in the cupholder,
    fizzing away.
      —O.K.? he asks.
    I nod and the film unrolls.
    A 20-million-dollar home movie it is,
    featuring yours truly: at the foot
    of the stairs with the dog, mounting
    Josette in a new Smyrna love nest,
    a fraught kitchen showdown with Mom,
    the suicide, car wreck, home run.
    You know what these things are like:
    the outlandish hairdos, pastel bathroom fixtures.
    The editing is out of this world,
    the whole shebang in under an hour:
    the air-raid drill on Wednesday morning,
    1957, when Tito wet his pants;
    there I am, beside myself with laughter,
    miserable little creature.
    The elemental, slow-motion machinery
    of character's forcing house.
    Even with all the fancy camera angles,
    jump cuts and the rest,
    might as well be a chain of short features:
    Animal Husbandry, Sexual Hygiene,
    Lisboa by Night ...

    What a lot of erections, voiding, pretzels,
    bouncing the ball against the stoop.
    She really did love you, all along.
    These jealousies and rages of yours,
    like a disgusting skin condition
    that never goes away.
    You, you ...
    What catalogs of failure, self-deception ...
    And then the lights come back on,
    likewise the choir's splintered polyphony,
    with its shards of Sprechstimme, the Ronettes, whatnot,
    and in the air around us
    something like the odor of a freshly spent cartridge,
    when my minder asks brightly,
      —How about another Coke?

      October 2003

    T. S . ELIOT
    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    S' io credessi che mia risposta fosse
    A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    Questa fiamma staria senza piú scosse.
    Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
    Non tornò vivo alcum, s' i' odo il vero,
    Senza tema d' infamia ti rispondo.

      Let us go then, you and I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherized upon a table;
    Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
    The muttering retreats
    Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
    Streets that follow like a tedious argument
    Of insidious intent
    To lead you to an overwhelming question ...

    Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
    Let us go and make our visit.

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

      The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes,
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes,
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
    Let fall upon its back the spot that falls from chimneys,
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
    And seeing that it was a soft October night,
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

      And indeed there will be time
    For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
    Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
    There will be time, there will be time
    To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
    There will be time to murder and create,
    And time for all the works and days of hands
    That lift and drop a question on your plate:
    Time for you and time for me,
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
    And for a hundred visions and revisions,
    Before the taking of a toast and tea.

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

      And indeed there will be time
    To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"—
    Time to turn back and descend the stair,
    With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
    (They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
    My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
    My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
    (They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

      For I have known them already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
        So how should I presume?

      And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
    The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase.
    And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
    When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
    Then how should I begin
    To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
        And how should I presume?


Excerpted from THE OPEN DOOR Copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Mastery and Mystery: Twenty-One Ways to Read a Century
Editors’ Note

Ezra Pound   In a Station of the Metro
Kay Ryan   Sharks’ Teeth
Marie Ponsot   Anti-Romantic 
Roddy Lumsden   The Young
LeRoi Jones   Valéry as Dictator
Edwin Arlington   Robinson Eros Turannos
Ange Mlinko   It Was a Bichon Frisé’s Life . . .
Muriel Rukeyser   Song
August Kleinzahler   The Hereafter
T. S. Eliot   The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Laura Kasischke   Look
Weldon Kees   From “Eight Variations”
Robert Creeley   For Love
Mary Karr   Disgraceland
Lucille Clifton   sorrows
A. E. Stallings   On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia
Charles Wright   Bedtime Story
Delmore Schwartz   In the Naked Bed, In Plato’s Cave
William Matthews   Mingus at the Showplace
Donald Justice   Men at Forty
Ruth Stone   Forecast
Craig Arnold   Meditation on a Grapefruit
Josephine Miles   The Hampton Institute Album
P. K. Page   My Chosen Landscape
Theodore Roethke   Florist’s Root Cellar
Wallace Stevens   Tea at the Palaz of Hoon
Basil Bunting   From Briggflatts
Louise Bogan   Night
Rodney Jack   After the Diagnosis
Margaret Atwood   Pig Song
Michael S. Harper   Blues Alabama
Isaac Rosenberg   Break of Day in the Trenches
George Starbuck   Of Late
Randall Jarrell   Protocols
Tom Disch   The Prisoners of War
Seamus Heaney   A Dog Was Crying To-Night in Wicklow Also
Hart Crane   At Melville’s Tomb
Robert Hayden   O Daedalus, Fly Away Home
Charles Bukowski   A Not So Good Night in the San Pedro of the World
Adrienne Rich   Final Notations
W. H. Auden   The Shield of Achilles
Albert Goldbarth   He Has
Alice Fulton   What I Like
Edna St. Vincent Millay   Rendezvous
Sylvia Plath   Fever 103
Lisel Mueller   In the Thriving Season
Eleanor Wilner   Magnificat
Atsuro Riley   Hutch
Thomas Sayers   Ellis Or,
Marianne Moore   No Swan So Fine
John Berryman   The Traveler
Averill Curdy   Sparrow Trapped in the Airport
H. D.   His Presence
Rae Armantrout   Transactions
Gwendolyn Brooks   The Children of the Poor
E. E. Cummings   What If a Much of a Which of a Wind
Frederick Seidel   Mu‘allaqa
Geoffrey Hill   The Peacock of Alderton
May Swenson   Green Red Brown and White
Anne Stevenson   Inheriting My Grandmother’s Nightmare
Jeanne Murray   Walker Little Blessing for My Floater
Brooklyn Copeland   Prayer’s End
Jack Spicer   “Any fool can get into an ocean . . . ”
Alan Dugan   Fabrication of Ancestors
Edward Dorn   Dark Ceiling
W. S. Merwin   Search Party
Lorine Niedecker   Three Poems
Denise Levertov   Our Bodies
James Wright   The Blessing
Robinson Jeffers   Grass on the Cliff
W. S. Di Piero   Big City Speech
Cid Corman   From “Cahoots”
Richard Wilbur   Hamlen Brook
Rita Dove   Old Folk’s Home, Jerusalem
Don Paterson   The Lie
Maxine Kumin   Nurture
William Carlos Williams   Paterson, Book V: The River of Heaven
Ted Hughes   Heatwave
Frank O’Hara   Chez Jane
Reginald Dwayne Betts   “For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers”
Rachel Wetzsteon   On Leaving the Bachelorette Brunch
Adrian Blevins   How to Cook a Wolf
A. R. Ammons   Gravelly Run
Samuel Menashe   Here
Robert Duncan   Returning to Roots of First Feeling
Langston Hughes   Blues in Stereo
James Schuyler   Korean Mums
Jacob Saenz   Sweeping the States
George Oppen   Birthplace: New Rochelle
Gary Snyder   Song of the Tangle
Belle Randall   A Child’s Garden of Gods
Isabella Gardner   The Widow’s Yard
Thom Gunn   Lines for a Book
Frank Bidart   From “The Third Hour of the Night”
William Meredith   The Illiterate
Rhina P. Espaillat   Changeling
Maria Hummel   Station
James Merrill   The Mad Scene
W. S. Graham   The Beast in the Space
William Butler Yeats   The Fisherman


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