Cover image for You've just been told : poems
You've just been told : poems
Macklin, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2000]

Physical Description:
95 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.A318737 Y68 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Here, in Elizabeth Macklin's second collection, an only child's responses to the fait accompli of childhood--decisions already made, accidents of history and family, patterns preset--come to the adult mind in the presence of change and grief. The mind regroups as it can: "later light on the hills of houses / before us / just as they are, as versus none."

"[P]oems of abrupt perception and rigorous lyricism."--New York Times Book Review "I love Elizabeth Macklin's poems."--Thomas Lux "The joy and intelligence in these poems is simply tremendous."--Tomaz Salamun, author of The Four Questions of Melancholy "Mastery as well as mystery, and we are grateful for what we've just been told."--Richard Howard "Macklin the Magician does it again!....dazzling evocations."--Marie Ponsot, author of The Bird Catcher  "[A]n exceedingly wise book--and joyful, too, though the joy is never glib or easy-won..."--Bill McKibben "Elizabeth Macklin talks to me, woman to woman, poet to poet. In listening to her, I am rewarded."--Nina Cassian

Author Notes

Elizabeth Macklin's awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Prize, and an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship. She is the author of A Woman Kneeling in the Big City. She lives in New York City.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Macklin's poems, encountered frequently in the New Yorker, can often barely contain their delicious surface detail. "See. See?," "The Homeland" ("Flowering/ home-carved cherry heartwood") and "A Chance Small Fruit," lead us (as in the last) in wonderfully faux-na‹ve adventures in synesthetic metaphor: "In the taste/ of this sour apple/ is the bee/ making pictures/ of honey." But what motivates Macklin's (A Woman Kneeling in the Big City) speaker to share these sensations is a kind of pathos to which many New Yorker readers obviously relate--the fear of the loss of agency, and of direct experience of the world, that can come with economic privilege. Thus, the book's title phrase turns out to be completed by "to move to/ Wolfe Island," a shabby-chic enclave with "a road with a name like/ Button Edge Road," yet a place that smacks of death, of "Whatever your choice was." "It is" firmly declares that "The sun should go down beyond/ a river.// That's what it does when I am home." Whatever their creator's origins, the leisured langour and worried precision of this book's speaker make her domestic vignettes read like eminently consumable lifestyle accessories. Quality and quantity-evaluations ("bright little words," "A hundred apologies"), fidgety suffixation ("granitic," "fixitic") and falsely epigrammatic endings ("I couldn't hold off--wait--wait/ to tell the truth. Now there isn't any.") can't draw attention away from the lack of correspondingly edgy insights. Such problems do not keep verse like "Students of Grammar" (recalling familial parsings), "The Lazy Girl Was Never Scolded" and others from being entertaining, but they reveal the work's limits, of which the poet seems aware. In "Detail from the Large Work," the search for a way out of the poetry of connoisseurship turns up as a theme, whereby thick description of a cropped artwork yields an elided main subject: "That's how we missed whole houses burning." One hopes she won't miss them the next time. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

In Galilea I Listenp. 13
Cast-Aluminum Espresso Potp. 15
Imaginep. 16
A Myth for the Girl at Bedtimep. 17
You've Just Been Toldp. 18
The Homelandp. 20
What I Said Afterwardp. 21
June Intercedes in the Garden of Rosesp. 22
1,985 Years Through a Word Between Usp. 23
A Chance Small Fruitp. 25
The Imaginary Picnicp. 26
Fall Backp. 27
Foolishly Halved, I See Youp. 28
Almostp. 29
Yet Another Categorical Imperativep. 31
Psalm 103 and Vanityp. 32
The Secret Note You Were Handed by Lorcap. 33
See. See?p. 34
The Sadness of Not Knowingp. 36
Grief Like a Physicist Finding the Quantum of Actionp. 37
The Sight of Least Regretp. 39
All That Is Symmetricp. 41
Only Childrenp. 42
Little Sisterp. 43
Students of Grammarp. 45
Given the Questionsp. 51
Edward M. Stringham Copied in Pencilp. 53
To Author Re: Insertp. 54
The Little Bees, Newly Busyp. 55
The New Officesp. 56
Walk Downhill During Heat Wave Elsewherep. 57
The Lazy Girl Was Never Scoldedp. 58
A Walk with an Abstract Expressionistp. 59
They Felt It Was Timep. 61
The House Stylep. 62
Daily Geographyp. 67
It Isp. 68
8 P.M., August of This Yearp. 70
Detail from the Large Workp. 72
One Thing Alonep. 73
Marriagesp. 74
As They Werep. 75
The Definite Articlep. 76
A Solo in Ip. 77
On the River Ride at the 25th Reunionp. 78
Now I Hear Itp. 80
For the Boy Who Was Also Singing and Listeningp. 81
The Seasonp. 83
At 43, She Thinks What to Name Her Childrenp. 84
Sign Languagep. 85
Harkp. 87
Grace Cathedral Mazep. 89
The Storep. 90
Remembering the Golden Agep. 92
Acknowledgmentsp. 93