Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz

We all knew he couldn't live forever -- could he? But the picture of the poet at 100 years old, full of verbal vigor and lyrics might inspired those of us writing past the half-century mark to again consider ourselves young poets. I thought, when I heard the news, that I wish I had sent him my book. It would have no doubt landed in a great pile, but would have added to the visible tribute nevertheless, even if it lay in a corner unread.

I also thought of lines from his poem "The Round", one of my all-time favorites:

I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed . . ."
I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
whena new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

May your new life be splashed with supernal light, Stanley. May the new day you now embark on turn its fresh pages with the shake of anemone petals and of late-blooming roses. May it be full of curious gladness.


  1. amen!

    (and nice thought about the five score years)

    Rachel, note, too, this elegy (from some Henry chap)

  2. I've been thinking the poetry economy isn't the pay the bills economy, it's the gift economy. We've gotta send our little books to the poets who've given us work we love. Yeah, like you said, there are times it'll probably share a pile in a corner or be donated to the library book sale unread, but most the poets we admire don't get piles of books in the mail. Not demanding a blurb or a do-you-like-me-huh-do-yuh ... a gift ...

  3. David -- I love Henry's tribute. Thanks for the link.

    Glenn-- the gift economy, that's great. I hereby resolve to send my book the next time I get the impulse, and make it clear I'm not looking for kudos or blurbs, just thanking another poet for being.

    That reminds me, I have a pile of good new poetry books by friends I want to blurb:

    Eve's Red Dress - Diane Lockward
    More of Me Disappears - John Amen
    Night in the Shape of a Mirror - Lynne Knight

    What a pleasure to have the work of friends stacking up around the house, and not just all those famous poets.

  4. Certainly many still remember Stanly's poem entitled END OF SUMMER. Part of it reads :
    Blue poured into summer blue,
    A hawk broke from his cloudless
    The roof of the silo blazed, and
    I knew
    That part of my life was over.

    This is a tribute to him.