A Momentary Glory: Last Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
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The distinguished poet Harvey Shapiro passed away on January 7, 2013. The poems in this book, many of them previously unpublished and discovered only after his death, are a great gift, and the final confirmation of his extraordinary talent. Edited by Shapiro's literary executor, the poet and critic Norman Finkelstein, these last poems bear an unprecedented gravitas, and yet they are as supple, jazzy, and edgy as Shapiro's earlier work. All the themes for which he is known are beautifully represented here. There are poems of his experiences in World War II, the erotic life, and of daily moments in Brooklyn and Manhattan, all in search of a worldly wisdom and grace that the poet calls "a momentary glory." As Shapiro tells us, the poem "Is an Egyptian / ship of the dead, / everything required / for life stored / in its hold." The book includes an introduction by the editor. An online reader's companion will be available.
as readers familiar with his work will quickly see. There are poems about the places where xii – he spent his last years, wry observations of city life, and of the Hamptons, and of the Florida Keys. There are poems based on his service in World War II (in 2003, the Library of America published the anthology that Harvey edited, Poets of World War II). There are love poems — Harvey is one of our great erotic poets. There are poems concerning some of the poets who meant the most to him, and of
the Beginning The green leaves against the blue sky look so primal, as if these were the first colors after the dark shadow slid from the vast abyss. – 55 Dan, Age 10, Explains 1 You can’t just die in Brooklyn. You have to be killed or mugged. You die in Miami. 2 I can’t find it Owing to the Darkness of the world. 56 – Bush Poem The significant end was approaching. Nobody said as much on television but everybody felt it. Maybe that was because the President was a religious man and was
left it. 74 – In Argument When the face that was so beautiful turns ugly in argument and the accusations fly — you always — then I know that death will come leaving me as ignorant as ever. – 75 The Old Jew Who would have thought his taste for pickled herring would outlast his taste for women. 76 – Lines (3) 1 Corazón, o corazón. Let the heart weep for this world, and let nothing stay it in its weeping. It is all I wanted to do with my life — to sing with a harsh throb in my throat
my shit. The closest I’ve come to a lyric in months is an adaptation of some lines by Yeats: I carry the moon in a silver cup. My shit in a plastic bag. – 85 Lines (4) He was too tired to look up “escutcheon.” So this was the end of the story. 86 – Luxury of Time Like the Holy One Creating worlds And desolating them All morning. – 87 The piece of myself I must deliver to death I have not found. It is in the poems, surely. It stands there, ready for my death, naming me. 88 –
Pardoned I don’t have to spend my eternity in Queens because the family plot in Queens is as crowded as a subway at rush hour. Instead, I can choose my own ground and my own tree and my own crow to croak Kaddish. – 89 City Poem 1 Bare but numinous trees, even in winter, even in the city, feeding on cement but bearing the whole burden of the air and the misery that seeps from the stones and from those who wander among them. 2 Of all the different kinds of light I like it best when dark comes