Babylon in a Jar: Poems

by Andrew Hudgins

These diverse poems of past and present, of order and disorder, press on with the forceful explorations that Andrew Hudgins began with his first book, SAINTS AND STRANGERS, a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1985. The wide-ranging poems in this new volume respond with passion to the natural world, to family life, to history, to inheritance: "before he flooded the rubble, he swept up the dust of Babylon / to give as presents, and he stored it in a jar."

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780618126972
  • ISBN-10: 061812697X
  • Pages: 80
  • Publication Date: 04/25/2001
  • Carton Quantity: 50
About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
  • About the Book
    The poems in Babylon in a Jar extend the forceful explorations that Andrew Hudgins began with Saints and Strangers, his first book and a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1985. Since then, he has probed the nature of Southern experience, the conflict between religion and worldliness, the origins of poetry, the exaltations and perils of family. In this volume he brings such issues down to the old conflict between order and disorder. He responds with passion to the natural world, to history, to inheritance: "before he flooded the rubble, he swept up the dust of Babylon / to give as presents, and he stored it in a jar." The breadth and sweep of these poems, their variety and fervor, surpass Hudgins's previous work in After the Lost War (winner of the Poets' Prize), The Never-Ending (a runner-up for the National Book Award), and The Glass Hammer.

    Subjects

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
    The Chinaberry

    I couldn’t stand still watching them forever, but when I moved the grackles covering each branch and twig sprang together into flight and for a moment in midair they held the tree’s shape, the black tree peeling from the green, as if they were its shadow or its soul, before they scattered, circled and re-formed as grackles heading south for winter grain fields.

    Oh, it was just a chinaberry tree, the birds were simply grackles. A miracle made from this world and where I stood in it.

    But you can’t know how long I stood there watching.

    And you can’t know how desperate I’d become advancing each step on the feet of my advancing shadow, how bitter and afraid I was matching step after step with the underworld, my ominous, indistinct and mirror image darkening with extreme and antic nothings the ground I walked on, inexact reversals, elongated and foreshortened parodies of each foot lowering itself onto its shadow.

    And you can’t know how I had tried to force the moment, make it happen before it happened— not necessarily this though this is what I saw: black birds deserting the tree they had become, becoming, for a moment in midair, the chinaberry’s shadow for a moment after they had ceased to be the chinaberry, then scattering: meaning after meaning— birds strewn across the morning like flung gravel until they found themselves again as grackles, found each other, found South and headed there, while I stood before the green, abandoned tree.

    Copyright © 1998 by Andrew Hudgins. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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