Delights & Shadows
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Publish Year note: First published January 1st 2004
Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
"Kooser documents the dignities, habits and small griefs of daily life, our hunger for connection, our struggle to find balance."—Poetry
"[Kooser] brushes poems over ordinary objects, revealing metaphysical themes that way an investigator dusts for fingerprints. His language is so controlled and convincing that one can't help but feel significant truths behind his lines." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Delights & Shadows raises the voice of the poet above everything else. Each short, vivid poem on the page reads as if it were being spoken aloud. Details about cemeteries, dictionaries, a doctor's waiting room, and a jar of buttons bristle with sound and awareness. Kooser's ability to use brief lyrics to compose a music of discovery and regeneration makes his work radiant and consuming." —Bloomsbury Review
[bTed Kooser[/b] is a master of metaphor, a poet who deftly connects disparate elements of the world and communicates with absolute precision. Critics call him a "haiku-like imagist" and his poems have been compared to Chekov's short stories. In Delights and Shadows, Kooser draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life. Quotidian objects like a pegboard, creamed corn and a forgotten salesman's trophy help reveal the remarkable in what before was a merely ordinary world.
Ted Kooser is the author of eight collections of poems and a prose memoir. He lives on a small farm in rural Nebraska.
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (2005)
— but when my grandmother snapped its switch each evening to tune in the news, it opened the tiny Japanese fan of its dial and light spilled over her fingers, swollen and stiff. And in near darkness my sister and I, shushed into silence, and Grandmother, rubbing and kneading the pain from her hands, sat there at the rear of the action, a patrol in the weak yellow glow from the war. 30 The Necktie His hands fluttered like birds, each with a fancy silk ribbon to weave into their nest, as he
streaks, like a shell exploding, but that is behind him. With stiff, bony shoulders he mows his way into the colors of summer. 50 Turkey Vultures Circling above us, their wing-tips fanned like fingers, it is as if they are smoothing one of those tissue-paper sewing patterns over the pale blue fabric of the air, touching the heavens with leisurely pleasure, just a word or two called back and forth, taking all the time in the world, even though the sun is low and red in the west, and they have
that holds back the universe, that takes off some of the pressure, keeping the weight of the unknown from breaking through and washing us all down the valley. Because of this small tube, through which a cold light rushes from the bottom of time, the depth of the stars stays always constant and we are able to sleep, at least for now, beneath the straining wall of darkness. 62 A Box of Pastels I once held on my knees a simple wooden box in which a rainbow lay dusty and broken. It was a set of
Lilacs Through early April cold, these thin gray horses have come near the house as to a fence, and lean there hungry for summer, nodding their heads with a nickering of twigs. Their long legs are dusty from standing for months in winter’s stall, and their eyes are like a cloudy sky seen through bare branches. They are waiting for May to come up from the barn with her overalls pockets stuffed with the fodder of green. In a month they will be slow and heavy, their little snorts so sweet you’ll
encouragement. How patient she is in the crisp white sails of her clothes. The sick woman peers from under her funny knit cap to watch each foot swing scuffing forward and take its turn under her weight. There is no restlessness or impatience or anger anywhere in sight. Grace fills the clean mold of this moment and all the shuffling magazines grow still. 7 Student The green shell of his backpack makes him lean into wave after wave of responsibility, and he swings his stiff arms and cupped