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Selected Poetry

John Hollander

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Description

“Perfection is a rare accomplishment, particularly in American poetry, and the perfection of much of Hollander’s work makes it essential reading for anyone who genuinely cares for the craft of poetry.  But in our fallen world we seem fated to value power of perfection, and John Hollander’s poetry has shown a visionary power just often enough to secure him a place as one of the major figures of our moment.”
Vernon Shetley, The New Republic

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 29, 1993 – The simultaneous publication of Hollander's latest work and his selected poems invites both a comparison and an appraisal of his career. The poet himself seems to be summing up his work and life; the subtext of Tesserae , sometimes buried under layers of form and allusion, is death. Hollander began as a formal poet, and has remained one, Audenesque in many respects. And while current poetic trends call for a structural looseness and emotional pitch that can be every bit as confining as formalism ever was, much of Hollander's power seems to have ebbed. A good formal poem binds the energy within it in productive, restless tension, as exemplified in his ``Late August on the Lido,'' a kind of Death in Venice in verse; here, Hollander shows that the power of experience can be enhanced by the form which recasts it. So also the frank and sometimes bitter eroticism of ``Sonnets for Roseblush,'' which shows how much room there is in form, if one is willing to push back. But the danger of formalism is that a poet can spend too much time just bouncing the ball off the backstop, and the peril of erudition like Hollander's is a gradual avoidance of the unknown. In Tesserae , a series of freestanding quatrains, form seems to have overwhelmed content, and the images are often remote from reality. It is hard to conceive of a ``laureate earth'' which ``hums elegies and lies about each life,'' still more so ``bookish snow,'' and ``the lively poison / Of interestingness.'' Increasingly, Hollander's poems resort to inversion, polysyllabic rhymes and the accents of another age, though some recover the facility and eloquence of his earlier work: ``The self-sustaining ardor of a bright / Candle-flame, steady in this windless night, / Reflected in its tiny cup of oil: / It draws from its own image heat and light.''
Selected Poetry
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Apr 06, 1993
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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