This is not the case with Kennedy. Perennials that came up only once Struggle and dry down from their stones of wood. His isolates and solitaries use it to try to escape their fundamental loneliness, seeking connection even violent connection with another person. Incarnation is not just a bad joke, but a blessing too. In an introduction to a posthumous volume of verse by E. Oh I'd never sit down by a tumbledown drunk If it wasn't, my dears, for the high cost of junk.
Assuming it came from some website, and playing my usual game of spot-the-little-marker-errors-inserted-by-the-website-controller, I compared it with a version quoted on the Internet from a recent Dell publication 'Fifty Years of American Poetry' and spotted five significant differences and lots of insignificant differences including punctuation. Like a tulip or crocus that fails to stir in spring, he cannot respond to the warmth of Easter and its invitation to believe. The poem confronts realistically what human dedication can accomplish. A bung in a wood barrel is a hole made by hammering in a sharp spout, so the analogy to shooting up is quite clear. But ultimately the lowly ass, like the one that bore Jesus into Jerusalem, is a bearer of wisdom.
Once said, it remains implied. Its final emblem feels untrue to the unbalanced, fearful scenes the poem shows in no uncertain terms. Other Kennedy poems similarly show a rare understanding, even empathy, for male characters whose behavior society condemns. The son has became a man and probably knows of the responsibilities and harsh times adults go through in life. In addition to being best known for work other than his poetry for adults, Kennedy has numerous other strikes against him. The broken threads in a line is also a reference to the effects of repeated heroin injections. Keep your bottoms off barstools and marry you young Or be left—an old barrel with many a bung.
Despite their aggressive impulses, these males are vulnerable in relation to women, precisely because of frustrated sexual desire. In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus is an ample gathering of his best work: memorable songs, startling lyrics, poems that tell poignant stories, character studies that vie with those of Edwin Arlington Robinson. Keep your bottoms off barstools and marry you young Or be left—an old barrel with many a bung. Oh I'd never sit down by a tumbledown drunk If it wasn't, my dears, for the high cost of junk. Even with the humorous elements, the topic of the poem is serious.
But at a literal level, this stanza also faithfully describes the doctrine of transubstantiation, which seems here at once comic and marvelous. He admits that he still haunts her street and peers into her windows, catching glimpses of the life she has carried on without him. This is the castigating voice, the Irish Catholic rebuke of someone who puts on airs, that Mary Gordon sums up as, Who do you think you are? And how much of it is sales pitch? Keep your bottoms off barstools and marry you young Or be left an old barrel with many a bung. And in mourning and giving voice to the child, so does the poem. The woman lived extravagantly, but now is low-living. Here, its order does not erase the difficulties of power and shame, but lets us comprehend what we are hard-pressed to overcome. I don't know the X.
He teaches at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia. Or is it his own loss of the woman he loved, his sense of being cut completely adrift, that makes it possible for the narrator to feel for those even worse off than he? Father probably never had time to share with his son because he worked so much that his hands were cracked from all the hard labor. But Kennedy may have had in the back of his mind a well-known remark by Robert Frost. But they remain alone, and grow more alone as they age. One-woman waterfall, she wears her slow descent like a long cape and pausing on the final stair, collects her motions into shape.
His sensibility is more prickly and aloof than warm and cuddly. Kennedy has remained who he is for more than half a century. That would be long to tense here for a leap, Thrall to the remote decisions of the light. Some of his poems, however are more reflective and serious. And at some level Kennedy seems to respect that seriousness, even as he pokes fun at it.
He has written almost exclusively metrical and rhymed verse and been outspoken in the defense of such verse, earning him the condemnation or worse the condescension of some critics and reviewers. But Kennedy challenges us to see them as less menacing than pitiable, moths blundering around a candle. But with its Swiftian revulsion at the betrayals of the aging female body, the poem is also unsettling. In the kerchief of linen I caught to my nose Ah, there never fell snot, but a little gold rose. Try to make yourself over in the image that a critic will approve, and you end up a scarecrow on a stick. It restores to print over fifty poems unavailable for decades and adds more than two dozen new poems collected for the first time.
But one who did so might see, as in time-lapse photography, a poet move from metrical to free verse or vice versa; or evolve from writing short lyrics to extended narratives and dramatic monologues; or in some way repudiate the style and subjects of his or her younger self, turning to pastures new. A master of verbal music, Kennedy has long been praised for his wit and humor; as this collection reveals, many of his poems also reach surprising depths and heights. Some Catholics might like the idea of getting their bodies back after they die, but Kennedy recoils at the notion, imagining not a spiritualized or perfected body but the old, imprisoning flesh, still subject to all its mortal ills, reaching out to reclaim him in its clutch. Now I'm saddled each night for my butter and eggs And the broken threads race down the backs of my legs. And he believes in honest work, humility, dedication to craft, the courage to look death in the face, and the willingness to offer comfort where one can.