Monday, November 10, 2008

Lie Down Now and Remember the Forest

Susan Stewart has a new book of poetry out, but Ange Mlinko's lovely review in The Nation references many others, including my very favorite Stewart poem, Columbarium's "Apple":

If I could come back from the dead, I would come back
for an apple, and just for the first bite, the first
break, and the cold sweet grain
against the roof of the mouth, as plain
and clear as water.
Some apple names are almost forgotten
and the apples themselves are gone. The smokehouse,
winesap and York imperial, the striped
summer rambo and the winter banana, the little
Rome with its squat rotunda and the pound apple
that pulled the boughs to the ground.

By the way:
Columbarium took as its epigraph the passage in Plato's Theaetetus where the soul is compared to an aviary full of birds: "Now let us make in each soul a sort of aviary of all kinds of birds.... Then we must say that when we are children this receptacle is empty; and by the birds we must understand pieces of knowledge."

"Apple" is the first poem in an ABC of "shadow georgics." Stewart is the only contemporary poet I know of who can sound avant-garde and like Virgil at the same time.

She is also a wonderful teacher and friend. I continually miss her wise humor.

Via Silliman.

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