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Poetry Magnum Opus

Thirteen Ways of Looking at 50+ Years of Poetry, 12

David W. Parsley

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David W. Parsley





The river is frozen

The broken necked blackbird

Must be nose nudging balls of blood

With his shadow which is naked

And silent and learning






© David W. Parsley 2011


Re: poems from The Lice, W.S. Merwin

"Some Last Questions" http://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~cinichol/Creat...poemsMerwin.htm

"Crows on the North Slope" http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/2005/11...thout-head.html

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A fit inclusion for this series, Dave. I admit I'm curious as to what you really think about these authors. Do you like all of them? Some of them? Any of them?:)) No need to answer ... Just musing.


Tony :)

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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David W. Parsley

Hi Tony, since I already confessed an admiration for the poetry of Wallace Stevens (including "The Snow Man"!), I might as well admit my overall liking for this one, as well. I have watched the work of W.S. Merwin for quite a while now and have to say he is probably the preeminent practicioner of our art in the last half of the twentieth century. In my opinion his greatest achievements are chronicled in his early work, culminating in the widely acknowledged landmark 1967 publication of the The Lice. Poems from that book speak to an emerging sensibility of that time that persists to this day: the need to take on the responsibility of the victor and look after the planet and its denizens. More pointedly, he addresses the dangers of not doing so, exploring the hidden potentials in the fabric of nature that we can unravel through carelessness. He also places in the conversation the need to reassess the context of the human condition, the soul itself. His work has rarely repeated the peaks seen in that book since.


I would commend to anyone who loves poetry almost any poem from that book (stay away from "Some Last Questions"), but the following are among my favorite poems of all time: The Room; The Herds; The Animals; December Among the Vanished (deceptive depths); For a Coming Extinction; How We Are Spared; Dusk in Winter; December Night; It Is March; The Last One; News of the Assassin; For the Anniversary of My Death; The Asians Dying. Even "Crows on the North Slope" works for me, but that doesn't mean I can't drag it in here for comic purposes, too!


One man's view. Merwin is the current US Poet Laureate, so I doubt he cares (and wouldn't anyway).


- Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, Dave, for the additional thoughts. I will check out some of the Merwin poems you've mentioned. I already have "Dusk in Winter," "December Night," and "It Is March" in the queue for reading.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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