Catalogue

COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

A draft of light : poems /
John Hollander.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
description
viii, 109 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0307269116, 9780307269119
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
isbn
0307269116
9780307269119
catalogue key
6415988
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 109).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Monday Morning Today we're having the windows washed . . . I think of how such a journal entry Might have proceeded if written by an Actual novelist or superb Epistolarian (known for her acid Eye, gentle heart and platinum tongue) Or essayist of an older sort, All of whom had memorious eyes And capacious memories for details: Their "powers of observation" make Me feel blind to the moment and Mindless of just what was said or worn. The true novelist's mandarin prose Of whatever mode makes up its own Recordings of what it made take place On disks themselves made up of years Of recycled detailed remembrances That I don't have to draw or write on. But I'll give the window washers a try. Let's see: I'll at least remember that There were three of them, and one came first To case the joint, as it were, and that All of them were of medium height, Slender and dark and that they did Indeed clean all the windows, inside and Out, hanging on safety straps Above the distant ground. That's it. But my own windows that look out On the immediate worldthe ones Through which they used to say the soul Peers out and love comes inget washed Only by tears, and what I know Of what's out there comes in through one Of the cleaner spots. Their sizes and Their placement are both meaningless, And make me wonder about what I get to see, whether of windows And what goes on when they get cleaned And who said what to whom and who Did which and with whator of mirrored Eyes or imagined minds. So that In the matter of the men who came To clean the windows, what could I say? "If memory serves . . ." but it will not: And like language itself when at Its best or even craziest, Ich dienit will not saylike each Dutiful Prince of Wales for seven Centuriesbut rathernon Serviam,the Adversary's No way!At the instant of starting up The engines of noticing, memory As full of random holes as any Uncleaned window is of spots Of blur and dimmingbegins at once To interfere, and so one's eyes Brim with forgetting long before The presence of a pastness, ears Can't quite recall what they are hearing. That's all there is to say about The windows being washed today. A Draft of Light We all had to wear hats against the unvarying sun, Of course; but what was more significant, We'd had to bring with usalong with our freshly prepared Thoughts, wrapped up in the old waybottled light To quench any thirst for knowledge that walking through the dry Valley of grayish terebinths and still Lizards on chunks of fallen Hellenistic masonry Might intensify through the lengthening Afternoon. Bottled? Well, all the available light, there In that valley uninflected by much Shade, was barely fit to drink and having to bring our own Along was always part of the bargain. When the light is too fierce for shadows to blossom in it, Too dry for any specificity, Too general for distinctness, too literal for truth, What else, after all, can a person do? Given that to think one's private thoughts of light were Somehow thereby to drink some of the fluid Light that is at once itself, and what of it is brought forth Again both by all that it makes visible, And by what those who see and say have ever said of it, As a flower whose name one knows jumps out Not merely in its saturated blue but in its changed Lookfrom the chaos of these petaled things And those surrounding it. But light
First Chapter
Monday MorningToday we’re having the windows washed . . .I think of how such a journal entryMight have proceeded if written by anActual novelist or superbEpistolarian (known for her acidEye, gentle heart and platinum tongue)Or essayist of an older sort,All of whom had memorious eyesAnd capacious memories for details:Their “powers of observation” makeMe feel blind to the moment andMindless of just what was said or worn.The true novelist’s mandarin proseOf whatever mode makes up its ownRecordings of what it made take placeOn disks themselves made up of yearsOf recycled detailed remembrancesThat I don’t have to draw or write on.But I’ll give the window washers a try.Let’s see: I’ll at least remember thatThere were three of them, and one came firstTo case the joint, as it were, and thatAll of them were of medium height,Slender and dark and that they didIndeed clean all the windows, inside andOut, hanging on safety strapsAbove the distant ground. That’s it.But my own windows that look outOn the immediate world–the onesThrough which they used to say the soulPeers out and love comes in–get washedOnly by tears, and what I knowOf what’s out there comes in through oneOf the cleaner spots. Their sizes andTheir placement are both meaningless,And make me wonder about whatI get to see, whether of windows–And what goes on when they get cleanedAnd who said what to whom and whoDid which and with what–or of mirroredEyes or imagined minds. So thatIn the matter of the men who cameTo clean the windows, what could I say?“If memory serves . . .” but it will not:And like language itself when atIts best or even craziest,Ich dienit will not say–like eachDutiful Prince of Wales for sevenCenturies–but rathernonServiam,the Adversary’sNo way!At the instant of starting upThe engines of noticing, memory–As full of random holes as anyUncleaned window is of spotsOf blur and dimming–begins at onceTo interfere, and so one’s eyesBrim with forgetting long beforeThe presence of a pastness, earsCan’t quite recall what they are hearing.That’s all there is to say aboutThe windows being washed today.A Draft of LightWe all had to wear hats against the unvarying sun, Of course; but what was more significant,We’d had to bring with us–along with our freshly prepared Thoughts, wrapped up in the old way–bottled lightTo quench any thirst for knowledge that walking through the dry Valley of grayish terebinths and stillLizards on chunks of fallen Hellenistic masonry Might intensify through the lengtheningAfternoon. Bottled? Well, all the available light, there In that valley uninflected by muchShade, was barely fit to drink and having to bring our own Along was always part of the bargain.When the light is too fierce for shadows to blossom in it, Too dry for any specificity,Too general for distinctness, too literal for truth, What else, after all, can a person do?Given that to think one’s private thoughts of light were Somehow thereby to drink some of the fluidLight that is at once itself, and what of it is brought forth Again both by all that it makes visible,And by what those who see and say have ever said of it, As a flower whose name one knows jumps out–Not merely in its saturated blue but in its changed Look–from the chaos of these petaled thingsAnd those surrounding it. But light keeps one thing in the dark: The matter of its very origins.Though babble’s tall outrageous tower fell, crumbling under The weight of its own presumption, LanguageHad a different tale to tell of itself: that it once Contracted to an insignificantPoint which nonetheless contained all the Meaningfullness that There was to be, and then, this being quiteUnbearable, exploded into all the languages, Chunks flying apart in such differentDirections! And then there were only all the languages. Likewise with Light before there were the hostOf private lights reflected by each brush, dot, or pixel Of all the surfaces of the seen world,The world as seen. An untold story, this, and for The matters of mass and energy we callMind, quite immaterial, but not to the substance of Our long walk. Quite the other way: our walk–Yes . . . nearing, but not at, its end, pausing there, just before Leaving the valley for the pine forestBetween it and the sea, we stopped to drink what was surely Ours by right–we’d carried it alongThe whole long way–and long swallows of it now allowed us Rightly to claim to know now where we wereGoing, rightly, at last, to know where we’d been all along And where it was that we had started from.The Remains of the Clarinet–Well, just the bell, really, and weHope, not kept in the far worse hopeOf being cleverly used–likeThe violin, painted mauve, topRemoved, passed around by the neckFull of mixed nuts or else servingAs a very silent butler;The kettledrum, beheaded, nowA planter; the French horn fixed onA stand, bell up, now a yawningAshtray. But this gently flaringEbony tube, ringed with metal,The bell gazing ceilingward andResting on an obsolete deskDictionary that itself liesOn a dusty table must beSpared the ravages of cutenessThat would stand some pens and pencilsIn it, or conceal a narrowBud vase in its base with a fewSprigs of lily of the valleyMight peek coyly over its rimLike white ladies on a tower.I’d want it to stand open and empty,Like a shell that is both ear andMouth at once, speaking of all itsSinging past and of its presentListening, and then listeningTo the silence of what it nowHas still commandingly to say.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-05-15:
The author of 18 collections of poetry and eight books of criticism, Connecticut poet laureate Hollander has been acclaimed for his formal verse since the publication of A Crackling of Thorns (1958), selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets award. Here he continues the tradition with sonnets, ballads, haiku, and variations of these forms. As one would expect of a poet whose work has been set to music, Hollander sees poetry as an oral art even though it is first written on paper. What one might not expect from this 78-year-old poet is the wordplay, lighthearted tone, and general mischievousness that seems to come trippingly from his pen--to paraphrase a line from Hamlet, a technique with which Hollander is very familiar. This volume's title poem, for example, ends with a paraphrase of T.S. Eliot's "Little Gidding." Other poems paraphrase Percy Bysshe Shelley, Wallace Stevens, and Joyce Kilmer, to say nothing of William Shakespeare. Like Shakespeare, Hollander fuses a somber tone with comic conventions, resulting in the poetic equivalent of the problem play. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-05-19:
The title poem of Hollander's 19th book of poems announces that "light keeps one thing in the dark:/ The matter of its very origins." With its turn on a colloquial phrase ("in the dark"), its investigation of philosophical problems and its interest in unanswerable questions, the punning claim typifies this sometimes didactic but ultimately moving collection. The Yale-based poet has always made his wide learning known: formal agility and literary history are once again on display--here are syllabics, deft haiku stanzas, virtuosic collations of off-rhyme and witty updates on the Romantic ballad, the medieval lament and the popular song of the sheet-music era. Half the volume might be classed as light verse--one poem pursues "Allegories on the banks of the Nile," and another ends by asking "what's a `meta-' for?" Yet the book shines when it takes up more serious concerns: the New York City of Hollander's childhood, which he recalls with delight, casts its retrospective light on old age, and some of the best stanzas use their wordplay to reflect on "what we have all been sentenced to, the full stop." Detractors might find too much language about language, but admirers will respond that here we see one of the smartest writers having fun and exploring, with elegance and gravity, his own life. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, May 2008
Publishers Weekly, May 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
A glorious new collection from one of our most distinguished poets. Here are poems that explore the ways in which ordinary objects open doors to the more hidden, subconscious truths of our inner selves: a bird of "countless colors" calls to mind "the echo . . . / of an inner event / From my forgotten past"; a subway bee sting conjures up quick unlikely visits by the muses--a momentary awareness that is "as much of a / Gift from those nine sisters as / Is ever given." Other poems lay bare the imperfect nature of our memories: reality altered by our inevitably less accurate but perhaps "truer" recall of past events ("memory-- / As full of random holes as any / Uncleaned window is of spots / Of blur and dimming--begins at once / To interfere"). Still others examine the dramatic changes in perspective we undergo over the course of a lifetime as, in the poem "When We Went Up," John Hollander describes the varied responses he has to climbing the same mountain at different points in his life. In all of the poems Hollander illuminates the fluid nature of physical and emotional experience, the connections between the simple things we encounter every day and the ways in which the meaning we attribute to them shapes our lives. Like the harmonious coming together of bandstand instruments on a summer afternoon, he writes, most of what we come to know in the world is "A dying moment / Of lastingness thenceforth / Ever not to be." Throughout this thought-provoking collection, Hollander reveals the ways in which we are constantly creating unique worlds of our own, "a draft of light" of our own making, and how these worlds, in turn, continually shape our most basic identities andtruest selves.
Main Description
A glorious new collection from one of our most distinguished poets. Here are poems that explore the ways in which ordinary objects open doors to the more hidden, subconscious truths of our inner selves: a bird of "countless colors" calls to mind "the echo . . . / of an inner event / From my forgotten past"; a subway bee sting conjures up quick unlikely visits by the musesa momentary awareness that is "as much of a / Gift from those nine sisters as / Is ever given." Other poems lay bare the imperfect nature of our memories: reality altered by our inevitably less accurate but perhaps "truer" recall of past events ("memory / As full of random holes as any / Uncleaned window is of spots / Of blur and dimmingbegins at once / To interfere"). Still others examine the dramatic changes in perspective we undergo over the course of a lifetime as, in the poem "When We Went Up," John Hollander describes the varied responses he has to climbing the same mountain at different points in his life. In all of the poems Hollander illuminates the fluid nature of physical and emotional experience, the connections between the simple things we encounter every day and the ways in which the meaning we attribute to them shapes our lives. Like the harmonious coming together of bandstand instruments on a summer afternoon, he writes, most of what we come to know in the world is "A dying moment / Of lastingness thenceforth / Ever not to be." Throughout this thought-provoking collection, Hollander reveals the ways in which we are constantly creating unique worlds of our own, "a draft of light" of our own making, and how these worlds, in turn, continually shape our most basic identities and truest selves.
Table of Contents
Hauntings
The Outcastsp. 3
A Ghost Storyp. 4
Ghostsp. 6
The Sparklersp. 8
Glimpse of a Silencep. 9
Janep. 11
What's on the Wallp. 13
Very Earlyp. 16
Tracesp. 17
Out of Sight, Still in Mindp. 19
Undecipherable Ms. Found in a Time Capsulep. 21
Policing the Yardp. 23
Tales and Fables
Monday Morningp. 27
A Ballad Romantically Restoredp. 29
A Draft of Lightp. 34
Setting Out for the Inner as the Outer Sets Inp. 36
Steep Declensionp. 37
Attic Nightsp. 39
Being Stung by a Bee on the Lexington Avenue Localp. 45
Stationary Bicyclep. 48
When We Went Upp. 51
Dr. Johnson's Fablep. 54
Typing Lesson: A Little Fablep. 55
Getting It Rightp. 57
From the Notes of a Travelerp. 58
Fiddling Around
Emeritus Facultiesp. 63
Fiddle-Faddlep. 64
For "Fiddle-De-Dee"p. 66
No Fiddlingp. 68
Second Fiddlep. 69
First Music Lessonp. 71
Another Cause for Wonderp. 73
Marine Tongue Twisterp. 74
Old Saws Newly Sharpenedp. 75
Missing Coordinatesp. 77
Still and Yetp. 78
A Confessionp. 79
Fidgetp. 80
Further Essays
Prosaic Translationp. 83
Fifty Years Agop. 85
Rooting for the Yankeesp. 86
Some Playthingsp. 92
Pretty as a Picturep. 94
Meditation on a Lawnp. 95
Weather Reportp. 96
At the Year's Endp. 98
The Way It All Goes Onp. 99
Question About an Old Questionp. 101
By Naturep. 103
Notesp. 107
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem