Sixty Poems

Paperback | January 1, 2008

byCharles Simic

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

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

CHARLES SIMIC was born in Belgrade and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He is the author of many books of poetry and prose. Among other honors, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and served as the Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007aÇô2008.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:108 pages, 8.06 × 5.38 × 0.33 inPublished:January 1, 2008Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156035642

ISBN - 13:9780156035644

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Read from the Book

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 As this fine old twilight deserves,   And the small schoolboy Who has come home to a room almost dark And now watches wide-eyed The grown-ups raise their glasses to him, The giddy-headed, red-haired woman With eyes tightly shut, As if she were about to cry or sing.   Compilation copyright © 2007 by Charles Simic   All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.  

Table of Contents

Contents

 

From Unending Blues, 1986

 

Toward Nightfall   3

 

Against Whatever It Is That’s Encroaching   6

 

 

From The Book of Gods and Devils, 1990

 

St. Thomas Aquinas   9

 

Factory   11

 

Shelley   12

 

The Devils   15

 

The White Room   17

 

The Big War   19

 

Paradise   20

 

In the Library   21

 

 

From Hotel Insomnia, 1992

 

The Prodigal   25

 

Hotel Insomnia   26

 

The Tiger   27

 

A Book Full of Pictures   29

 

Evening Walk   30

 

Romantic Sonnet   31

 

The Old World   32

 

Country Fair   33

 

 

From A Wedding in Hell, 1994

 

Paradise Motel   37

 

The Clocks of the Dead   38

 

Leaves   39

 

Transport   40

 

Crazy About Her Shrimp   41

 

Reading History   42

 

Empires   44

 

Mystics   45

 

Via del Tritone   46

 

The Secret   47

 

 

From Walking the Black Cat, 1996

 

Mirrors at 4 a.m.   51

 

Cameo Appearance   52

 

What the Gypsies Told My Grandmother While She Was Still a Young Girl   53

 

Little Unwritten Book   54

 

Slaughterhouse Flies   55

 

An Address with Exclamation Points   56

 

Entertaining the Canary   57

 

Ghosts   58

 

At the Cookout   60

 

Club Midnight   62

 

Pastoral Harpsichord   63

 

Have You Met Miss Jones?   64

 

 

From Jackstraws, 1999

 

The Soul Has Many Brides   69

 

Mummy’s Curse   70

 

The Common Insects of North America   71

 

The Toy   72

 

 

From Night Picnic, 2001

 

Unmade Beds   79

 

The One to Worry About   80

 

Sunday Papers   81

 

The Altar   82

 

My Father Attributed Immortality to Waiters   83

 

The Lives of the Alchemists   84

 

 

From The Voice at 3:00 a.m., 2003

 

Grayheaded Schoolchildren   87

 

Serving Time   88

 

Late September   89

 

 

From My Noiseless Entourage, 2005

 

Self-Portrait in Bed   93

 

To Dreams   94

 

My Noiseless Entourage   95

 

Description of a Lost Thing   96

 

My Turn to Confess   97

 

In the Planetarium   98

 

Pigeons at Dawn   99

Editorial 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 "