Sixty Poems

by Charles Simic

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780156035644
  • ISBN-10: 0156035642
  • Pages: 108
  • Publication Date: 01/07/2008
  • Carton Quantity: 120

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book

    Here are sixty of Charles Simic's best known poems, collected to celebrate his appointment as the fifteenth Poet Laureate of the United States.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    From Unending Blues, 1986

    toward nightfall

     

    for Don and Jane

     

    The weight of tragic events

    On everyone’s back,

    Just as tragedy

    In the proper Greek sense

    Was thought impossible

    To compose in our day.

     

    There were scaffolds,

    Makeshift stages,

    Puny figures on them,

    Like small indistinct animals

    Caught in the headlights

    Crossing the road way ahead,

     

    In the gray twilight

    That went on hesitating

    On the verge of a huge

    Starless autumn night.

    One could’ve been in

    The back of an open truck

    Hunkering because of

    The speed and chill.

     

    One could’ve been walking

    With a sidelong glance

    At the many troubling shapes

    The bare trees made—

    Like those about to shriek,

    But finding themselves unable

    To utter a word now.

     

    One could’ve been in

    One of these dying mill towns

    Inside a small dim grocery

    When the news broke.

    One would’ve drawn near the radio

    With the one many months pregnant

    Who serves there at that hour.

     

    Was there a smell of

    Spilled blood in the air,

    Or was it that other,

    Much finer scent—of fear,

    The fear of approaching death

    One met on the empty street?

     

    Monsters on movie posters, too,

    Prominently displayed.

    Then, six factory girls,

    Arm in arm, laughing

    As if they’ve been drinking.

    At the very least, one

    Could’ve been one of them:

     

    The one with a mouth

    Painted bright red,

    Who feels out of sorts,

    For no reason, very pale,

    And so, excusing herself,

    Vanishes where it says:

    Rooms for Rent,

    And immediately goes to bed,

    Fully dressed, only

     

    To lie with eyes open,

    Trembling, despite the covers.

    It’s just a bad chill,

    She keeps telling herself

    Not having seen the papers

    Which the landlord has the dog

    Bring from the front porch.

     

    The old man never learned

    To read well, and so

    Reads on in that half-whisper,

    And in that half-light

    Verging on the dark,

    About that day’s tragedies

    Which supposedly are not

    Tragedies in the absence of

    Figures endowed with

    Classic nobility of soul.

    against whatever it is that’s encroaching

     

    Best of all is to be idle,

    And especially on a Thursday,

    And to sip wine while studying the light:

    The way it ages, yellows, turns ashen

    And then hesitates forever

    On the threshold of the night

    That could be bringing the first frost.

     

    It’s good to have a woman around just then,

    And two is even better.

    Let them whisper to each other

    And eye you with a smirk.

    Let them roll up their sleeves and unbutton their shirts a bit

  • Reviews

    "The range of Charles Simic's imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery. He handles language with the skill of a master craftsman, yet his poems are easily accessible, often meditative and surprising. He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humor." --James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress  

    "[Simic] draws on the dark satire of Central Europe, the sensual rhapsody of Latin America, and the fraught juxtapositions of French Surrealism, to create a style like nothing else in American literature. Yet [his] verse remains recognizably American--not just in its grainy, hard-boiled textures, straight out of 1940s film noir, but in the very confidence of its eclecticism." --Adam Kirsch, New York Sun

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