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Collected Poems

Donald Justice

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (304 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2006)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author

    Here in Katmandu

    We have climbed the mountain.
    There’s nothing more to do.
    It is terrible to come down
    To the valley
    Where, amidst many flowers,
    One thinks of snow,

    As, formerly, amidst snow,
    Climbing the mountain,
    One thought of flowers,
    Tremulous, ruddy with dew,
    In the valley.
    One caught their scent coming down.

    It is difficult to adjust, once down,
    To the absence of snow.
    Clear days, from the valley,
    One looks up at the mountain.
    What else is there to do?
    Prayer wheels, flowers!

    Let the flowers
    Fade, the prayer wheels run down.
    What have these to do
    With us who have stood atop the snow
    Atop the mountain,
    Flags seen from the valley?

    It might be possible to live in the valley,
    To bury oneself among flowers,
    If one could forget the mountain,
    How, never once looking down,
    Stiff, blinded with snow,
    One knew what to do.

    Meanwhile it is not easy here in Katmandu,
    Especially when to the valley
    That wind which means snow
    Elsewhere, but here means flowers,
    Comes down,
    As soon it must, from the mountain.

    Anthony Hecht described Donald Justice as ‘among other things, the supreme heir of Wallace Stevens.’ This memorial volume of his complete poetry testifies to his subtle and enduring brilliance. With painterly vividness and plainspoken elegance he endeavoured to make the local views which his titles often evoke – ‘Bus Stop’, ‘Men at Forty’, ‘Dance Lessons of the Thirties’ – part of the literary heritage from which he so often took solace and inspiration.

    Donald Justice was born in Miami, Florida, in 1925 and grew up there. After graduating from the University of Miami, where he had studied musical composition with Carl Ruggles, he attended the University of North Carolina, Stanford and Iowa. His first book, The Summer Anniversaries, was the Lamont Poetry Selection ... read more
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