Collected Poems, 1953-1993

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 25, 2012 - Poetry - 416 pages
“The idea of verse, of poetry, has always, during forty years spent working primarily in prose, stood at my elbow, as a standing invitation to the highest kind of verbal exercise—the most satisfying, the most archaic, the most elusive of critical control.  In hotel rooms and airplanes, on beaches and Sundays, at junctures of personal happiness or its opposite, poetry has comforted me with its hope of permanence, its packaging of flux.”
                Thus John Updike writes in introducing his Collected Poems.  The earliest poems here date from 1953, when Updike was twenty-one, and the last were written after he turned sixty.  Almost all of those published in his five previous collections are included, with some revisions.  Arranged in chronological order, the poems constitute, as he says, “the thread backside of my life’s fading tapestry.”  An ample set of notes at the back of the book discusses some of the hidden threads, and expatiates upon a number of fine points.
                Nature—tenderly intricate, ruthlessly impervious—is a constant and ambiguous presence in these poems, along with the social observation one would expect in a novelist.  No occasion is too modest or too daily to excite metaphysical wonder, or to provoke a lyrical ingenuity of language.  Yet even the wittiest of the poems are rooted to the ground of experience and fact.  “Seven Odes to Seven Natural Processes” attempt to explicate the physical world with a directness seldom attempted in poetry.  Several longer poems—“Leaving Church Early,” “Midpoint”—use autobiography to proclaim the basic strangeness of existence.
 

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Collected poems, 1953-1993

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If this collection is any indication, Updike is as prolific a poet as he is a novelist and critic. Nothing--airplane travel, a bug in the sink, a darning egg, a pair of eyeglasses--is too mundane a ... Read full review

Contents

Dream and Reality
Dutch Cleanser
Rats
The Melancholy of Storm Windows
Calders Hands
The Grief of Cafeterias
Spanish Sonnets
To Ed Sissman

English Train Compartment
Tao in the Yankee Stadium Bleachers
How to Be Uncle Sam
3 AM
Mobile of Birds
Shillington
Suburban Madrigal
Telephone Poles
Mosquito
Trees Eat Sunshine
Winter Ocean
Modiglianis Death Mask
Seagulls
Seven Stanzas at Easter
BWI
February 22
West Side
Wash
Maples in a Spruce Forest
Vermont
The Solitary Pond
Flirt
Fever
Earthworm
OldFashioned Lightning Rod
Sunshine on Sandstone
The Stunt Flier
Calendar
The Short Days
Boil
Widener Library Reading Room
Movie House
Vibration
The Blessing
My Children at the Dump
The Great Scarf of Birds
Azores
Erotic Epigrams
Hoeing
Report of Health
Fireworks
Lamplight
Nuda Natens
Postcards from Soviet Cities
Camera
Roman Portrait Busts
Fellatio
Décor
Poem for a Far Land
Late January
Dogs Death
Home Movies
Antigua
Amoeba
Elm
Daughter
Eurydice
Seal in Nature
Air Show
Omega
The Angels
Bath After Sailing
Topsfield Fair
Pompeii
Sand Dollar
Washington
Dream Objects
Midpoint
Chloës Poem
Minority Report
Living with a Wife
À lÉcole Berlitz
South of the Alps
A Bicycle Chain
Tossing and Turning
On an Island
Sunday Rain
Marching Through a Novel
Night Flight over Ocean
Phenomena
Wind
Sunday
Touch of Spring
The House Growing
Cunts
Apologies to Harvard
Commencement Pingree School
Conversation
Melting
Query
Heading for Nandi
Sleepless in Scarsdale
Note to the Previous Tenants
Pale Bliss
Mime
Golfers
Poisoned in Nassau
You Who Swim
Sunday in Boston
Raining in Magens Bay
Leaving Church Early
Another Dogs Death
Ohio
Iowa
Waiting Rooms
On the Way to Delphi
An Oddly Lovely Day Alone
Taste
Penumbrae
Revelation
The Shuttle
Crab Crack
Nature
The Moons of Jupiter
Upon the Last Day of His FortyNinth Year
Planting Trees
The Fleckings
East HamptonBoston by Air
SmallCity People
LA
Plow Cemetery
Spring Song
Accumulation
Styles of Bloom
Natural Question
Two Hoppers
Two Sonnets Whose Titles Came to Me Simultaneously
Long Shadow
Aerie
The Code
Island Sun
Pain
Sleeping with You
Richmond
Gradations of Black
The Furniture
Seven Odes to Seven Natural Processes
Switzerland
Munich
A Pear like a Potato
Airport
From Above
Oxford Thirty Years After
Somewhere
Sonnet to ManMade Grandeur
Klimt and Schiele Confront the Cunt
Returning Native
Snowdrops 1987
Goodbye Göteborg
Hot Water
Squirrels Mating
Sails on All Saints Day
Tulsa
Tourist View
Back Bay
In Memoriam Felis Felis
Enemies of a House
Orthodontia
Condo Moon
Pillow
Seattle Uplift
The Beautiful Bowel Movement
Charleston
Frost
To a Box Turtle
Each Summers Swallows
Fargo
Fall
The Millipede
Generic College
Perfection Wasted
Working Outdoors in Winter
Indianapolis
Zoo Bats
Landing in the Rain at La Guardia
Mouse Sex
Granite
Relatives
Thin Air
November
Light Switches
Miami
Fly
Flurry
Bindweed
July
To a Dead Flame
Back from Vacation
Literary Dublin
Elderly Sex
Celery
São Paulo
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil
Upon Looking into Sylvia Plaths Letters Home
At the End of the Rainbow
Academy
LIGHT VERSE
Notes
Index of Titles
A Note About the Author
Books by John Updike
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

JOHN UPDIKE was the author of more than sixty books, eight of them collections of poetry. His novels, including The Centaur, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

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