The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems 1940-2001 (American Poets Continuum)
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Few poets have so artfully confronted American life as Louis Simpson. Persona speakers struggle with everyday issues against a backdrop of larger forces, the individual’s maladjustment to a culture of materialism and brutal competition, the failure of marriage under the pressures of such a society, the failure of the American dream. Simpson wages a lover’s quarrel with the world.
"Louis Simpson has perfect pitch. His poems win us first by their drama, their ways of voicing our ways . . . of making do with our lives. Then his intelligence cajoles us to the brink of a cliff of solitude and we step over into the buoyant element of true poetry."—Seamus Heaney
Educated at Munro College (West Indies) and at Columbia University, Louis Simpson has taught widely, most recently at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is the author of seventeen books of poetry and ten works of prose. He has received fellowships from the Academy of American Poetry, the Hudson Review, the Guggenheim Foundation, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
use a knife and fork Again. Look there above us! Spry’s for Baking . . . starry spectacle. For Frying. More, a miracle.” Perhaps at running water he can balk The bloodhound that is howling for his liver. Now he will rise again, rise up and walk. “And do you know, I’ve found 143 My neighbors spy on me when I undress. Perhaps I ought to change, to change my address.” He sees his oracle, the weight machine. His flesh is right; he laughs and pats the giver. Alas, its entrails also tell his
pleases me sometimes to think of it. Noli me tangere was not her sign. Her pilgrim trembled with the softest awe. She was the only daughter of a line That sleeps in poetry and silences. She might have sat upon the Sphinx’s paw. 157 Then is she simply false, and falsely fair? (The promise she would break she never made) I cannot say, but truly can compare, For when the stars move like a steady fire I think of her, and other faces fade. 158 The Man Who Married Magdalene The man who married
Chair A. Poulin, Jr., President & Founder (1976–1996) 260 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604 www.boaeditions.org 10 This book is dedicated to my friends: Fred Morgan and Paula Deitz David and Paulyn Church Arlene Eager Don and Jeanette Resnick Serge Fauchereau 11 Contents • Title Page • Copyright • Dedication NEW POEMS 1 The Listeners 1. The Long Afternoon 2. Nero in Love 3. A Letter from Brazil 4. An Old Building on Hudson Street 5. The Appointment 6. An Orchid 7. The Listeners 12 8.
him.” 76 The martini came. “Here’s to us,” he said. “May we live so long.” This martini wasn’t right either. It was nearly all vermouth, he said, and ordered another. 77 Foursome Adele said, “I know a game. Each of us has to describe his or her most embarrassing moment. Then we’ll all four take a vote, and the winner will have a prize.” Joe told of going for a swim and walking out of the showers to find himself standing naked at poolside, in plain view. He had walked through the wrong
man. 122 And I shall be wanting to be rid of this thing to the end of my days. 123 Graduation My ex-wife comes over and invites me to sit with them. I say okay. There are a lot of speeches, all saying much the same, about the new generation, the future belongs to them. They’re lining up for it, walking onto the stage. There she is, our Meredith. The sound of two hands clapping is mine. If there’s one thing I know it’s when something is over and done with, and it’s time to go. 124