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The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters

The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters

by Yvor Winters, R.L. Barth (Contribution by), Helen Pinkerton Trimpi (Contribution by)

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As part of the ongoing effort of the Ohio University Press/Swallow Press to reintroduce the work of a number of significant twentieth-century poets to a new generation of readers, we are especially enthusiastic about publishing the selected poems of Yvor Winters, whose work and influence was so central to the development of the poetry list at Swallow Press.



As part of the ongoing effort of the Ohio University Press/Swallow Press to reintroduce the work of a number of significant twentieth-century poets to a new generation of readers, we are especially enthusiastic about publishing the selected poems of Yvor Winters, whose work and influence was so central to the development of the poetry list at Swallow Press.

Yvor Winters (1900-1968) was a friend, colleague, and teacher to poets of several generations from Hart Crane and Allen Tate to J. V. Cunningham, Turner Cassity, and Edgar Bowers to Robert Hass, Philip Levine, and Robert Pinsky. His impact on mid-to-late twentieth-century poetry is profound. This stems in large part from his poetry, which was a reflection of his critical thinking about poetry, and which underwent substantive changes over his career as a poet. His collected poems won the Bollingen Prize in 1960.

Editorial Reviews

Kristine Morris
The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters provides the reader with in-depth background on the poet and his style.... For those who seek scholarly analysis, the introduction by Helen Pinkerton Trimpi is worth their study. Lovers of poetry will take pleasure in the works presented in this well-designed volume.
ForeWord Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Thirty years after his death, Winters (1900-1968) is still known primarily as the American poet-critic who gave up on "experimental" poetry to defend the resources of "traditional form." Critics point to Winters' early poems to portray him as an expert in these modes he later renounced, but like the later poems written under the sign of Ben Jonson they are uneven in quality. The very early "Two Songs of Advent" kicks off the book with its blend of Imagist technique and western, quasi-Native American thematics, and "The Cold" and "Jos 's Country" deserve to be better known. But much of the early Winters can seem inconsequential as well as belated next to the canonical modernist poetry it imitates. Early and late, the poems ceaselessly wrestle with ontological singularity and a hostile nature--Winters's one certainty was death--and are rife with the screams of children and dogs, and images of a bleak American West. One appreciates the moments when the struggle against emotional excess is most at risk, as in "Song of the Trees" (with its exclamatory opening: "Belief is blind! Bees scream!") or "The Realization." Some better known poems such as "A View of Pasadena from the Hills" or "The Slow Pacific Swell" seem to have wrinkled--to use a word strangely persistent in these poems--as have the pastoral settings and conventions. But there is enough that is still surprising in Winters, especially in his efforts to find a poetry adequate to public event, to urge that he be read by those beyond the faithful in his now-dwindling, Stanford-based circle. (Mar.)

Product Details

Ohio University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters

By Yvor Winters

Swallow Press

Copyright © 1999 Yvor Winters
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0804010137

Chapter One

Two Songs of Advent


On the desert, between pale mountains, our cries--
Far whispers creeping through an ancient shell.


Coyote, on delicate mocking feet,
Hovers down the canyon, among the mountains,
His voice running wild in the wind's valleys.

Listen! Listen! for I enter now your thought.

One Ran Before

I could tell
Of silence where
One ran before
Himself and fell
Into silence
Yet more fair.

And this were more
A thing unseen
Than falling screen
Could make of air.

Song for a Small Boy
Who Herds Goats

Sweeter than rough hair
On earth there is none,
Rough as the wind
And brown as the sun.

I toss high my short arms
Brown as the sun,
I creep on the mountains
And never am done.

Sharp-hoofed, hard-eyed,
Trample on the sun!--
Sharp ears, stiff as wind,
Point the way to run!

Who on the brown earth
Knows himself one?
Life is in lichens
That sleep as they run.


I, one who never speaks,
Listened days in summer trees,
Each day a rustling leaf.

Then, in time, my unbelief
Grew like my running--
My own eyes did not exist,
When I struck I never missed.

Noon, felt and far away--
My brain is a thousand bees.

Winter Echo

Thin air! My mind is gone.

Spring Rain

My doorframe smells of leaves.

The Aspen's Song

The summer holds me here.

God of Roads

I, peregrine of noon.

A Deer

The trees rose in the dawn.

The Precincts of February

Steely shadows,
Floating the jay.
A man,

Heavy and ironblack,
Alone in the sun,
Threading the grass.
The cold,

Coming again
As spring
Came up the valley,
But to stay

Rooted deep in the land.
The stone-pierced shadows
Trod by the bird
For day on day.

Jose's country

A pale horse,
Mane of flowery dust,
Runs too far
For a sound
To cross the river.

Swept by far hooves
That gleam
Like slow fruit
In the haze
Of pondered vision.

It is nothing.
Beyond a child's thought,
Where a falling stone
Would raise pale earth,
A fern ascending.

The Upper Meadows

The harvest falls
Throughout the valleys
With a sound
Of fire in leaves.

The harsh trees,
Heavy with light,
Beneath the flame, and aging,
Have risen high and higher.

The clustered
Fur of bees,
Above the gray rocks of the uplands.

The hunter deep in summer.
Grass laid low by what comes,
Feet or air--
But motion, aging.


The branches,
jointed, pointing
up and out, shine
out like brass.

Upon the heavy
lip of earth
the dog

moments is
possessed and screams:

The rising moon draws
up his blood and hair.

The Cold

Frigidity the hesitant
uncurls its tentacles
into a furry sun.
The ice expands
into an insecurity
that should appal
yet I remain, a son
of stone and of a
commentary, I, an epitaph,
astray in this
oblivion, this
inert labyrinth
of sentences that
dare not end. It
is high noon and
all is the more quiet
where I trace
the courses of the Crab
and Scorpion, the Bull,
the Hunter, and the Bear--
with front of steel
they cut an aperture
so clear across the
cold that it cannot
be seen: there is no
smoky breath, no
breath at all.

Digue Dondaine, Digue Dondon

Sun on the sidewalk
for the corpse to
pass through like the
dark side of a leaf

in the immobile
suddenness of spring
he stood there
in the streetlight
casting a long shadow
on the glassed begonias
madness under
his streaked eyelids

miles away the
cold plow in veined earth

the wind fled hovering
like swarming bees
in highest night

the streets paved with
the moon smooth to
the heels

and he whirled off in


and pale and small
children that run shrieking
through March doorways
burst like bubbles
on the cold twigs
block on block away


Moonlight on stubbleshining
whirls down upon me finer than geometry
and at my very
eyes it blurs and softens like a dream

In leafblack houses
linen smooth with sleep
and folded by cold life itself for limbs so definite

their passion is
persistent like a pane of glass

about their feet the clustered
birds are sleeping
heavy with incessant life

The dogs swim close to earth

A kildee rises
dazed and rolled amid the sudden blur of sleep
above the dayglare of the fields
goes screaming
off toward darker hills.


Excerpted from The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters by Yvor Winters Copyright © 1999 by Yvor Winters. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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