Friday, August 2, 2013

Some Jack Gilbert

I've been knee deep in the poetry of Jack Gilbert this week.  I went through my poetry books (no small task as I have over 300 books of poetry) and found two of Mr. Gilbert's.  I haven't been able to put them down since stumbling upon them...metaphorically and literally.  Below are two of my favorite poems out of hundreds of favorites. 

(August has sashayed into Louisiana hot, humid and steamy.  She always was a sultry, sizzling bitch and continues to live up to her bad reputationBut the dragonflies and hummingbirds are plenteous and the tomatoes still giving freely of their fruit I pluck them from the plant and eat them like apples, juice dripping down my chin. My shirts are stained. I can think of no finer luxury in this life.)  xo


Older Women
By Jack Gilbert

Each farmer on the island conceals
his hive far up on the mountain,
knowing it will otherwise be plundered.

When they die, or can no longer make
the hard climb, the lost combs year
after year grow heavier with honey.
And the sweetness has more and more
acutely the taste of that wilderness.

from:  "Jack Gilbert:  Collected Poems", page 173


The Danger of Wisdom
By Jack Gilbert

We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.

from:  "Jack Gilbert:  Collected Poems", page 330



Kelly said...

Yes. Eating a tomato like an apple, fresh from the vine. What a luxury!

erin said...

i don't know how to choose my favorite of gilbert's. he is a wealth of our tragic and rapturous humanity. i love him deeply and in the complicated way any real love is. i've been reading his collected poems these last two weeks over and over, always discovering something essential and new, even in the ones i have known. there is such depth to his writing that i don't know the bucket will ever reach the bottom of the well.

it turned cool here in the last while, cool enough for jeans and even a sweater. can you imagine! pods begin to gather for dissemination, yellow leaves begin to push forward and the fern begins to dry.


Jonas said...

Wow! The name Jack Gilbert didn't ring a bell (though I've several hundred books o' poetry meself). I LOVED these snippets! I needs me more. Lots more!

Serena said...

I can see why you're so taken with Jack Gilbert. Lovely works!

I so envy you those fresh, eat-em-from-the-vine tomatoes. I can't even remember the last time I ate one right off the vine.:)

The Grim Reefer said...

I am taken by this short poem by Jack Gilbert. His plainspoken colloquialism and mastery of the vernacular belies subtle complexities of his rhythms. Not easily done. Very nice.