Cover image for The collected poems
The collected poems
Kunitz, Stanley, 1905-2006.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2000]

Physical Description:
285 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3521.U7 A17 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3521.U7 A17 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In 1995, Stanley Kunitz received the National Book Award in Poetry for Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected. The citation for the award read in part: "In his genius, great clarity is joined to great generosity. His work shines with humanity, humor, precision, and passion." Now, combining both early and later poems, including Selected Poems (which won the Pulitzer Prize), Kunitz presents us with the gift of his life's work in poetry. The early poems, long unavailable in any edition, sound themes that have always engaged Kunitz: life's meaning, the relation of time to eternity, kinship with nature, and loss, most poignantly that of his father. Despite the power of his poems about loss, Kunitz ardently celebrates life. Perpetually curious, eager for fresh revelations, he fully lives up to his own advice to younger poets "to persevere, then explore. Be explorers all your life."

Author Notes

Stanley Kunitz was born in July 1905 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated summa cum laude in 1926 from Harvard Collegeand earned a master's degree in English from Harvard the following year. After Harvard, he went to work as a reporter for the Worcester Telegram and as an editor for the H.W. Wilson Company where he was co-editor for Twentieth Century Authors and other reference books. After W.W. II he began a teaching career at several known colleges such as: Bennington College, New York State Teachers College in Potsdam, New York and New School of Social Research, Universty of Washington. His poems started to appear in Poetry, Commonweal, and The New Republic. Some of his most popular collections of poems are - Intellectual Things, Passport to the War, and Passing Through: The Later Poems. His most recent honors include the Harvard Centennial Medal (1992), the National Medal of Arts (1993), and an "In Celebration of Writers" award from Poets & Writers (1999). He continued to write and publish as later as 2005. He died in May 2006.

(Bowker Author Biography) Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. He was a graduate of Harvard University, where he was awarded the Garrison Medal for Poetry, and received a BA in 1926 and an MA in 1927. He then moved to New York, taking a job with the H. W. Wilson company as an editor of the Wilson Library Bulletin; he also began at this time the work of collaboration with Howard Haycraft on four biographical dictionaries of English and American authors.

His first book of poems, Intellectual Things in 1930 was barely recognized, and Kunitz did not publish his second book, Passport to War, for another fourteen years. World War II interrupted his career as editor, and when he was released from the army he joined the faculty of Bennington College, the first of several academic jobs. He has taught at Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton and other colleges and universities and translated the work of recent Russian poets. Kunitz became the 10th poet laureate of the United States in the fall of 2000, at the age of 95.

Kunitz published his first book of poetry in 1930 and has since produced nine more. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1959 as well as the Bollingen Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, Harvard's Centennial Medal, the Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, a senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Medal of the Arts, the National Book Award, and the Shelley Memorial Award. He served for two years as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, was designated State Poet of New York, and is a Chancellor Emeritus of The Academy of American Poets.

A founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Poets House in New York City, he taught for many years in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. He died in Manhattan on May 14, 2006 at the age of 100.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kunitz, appointed U.S. poet laureate at age 95, says that he only writes poetry when poems demand to be written, but even from his earliest works, republished here for the first time in decades, he has been both bard and contemplative, writing authoritatively of public matters as well as expressing deeply private visions. To read this collection of 70 years of exacting, metaphysically inquiring, and consistently lithe, beautiful, and moving poetry is to trace the evolution of a century and one man's spirit and sensibility. In his first book, Kunitz was tentatively feeling his way into the cosmos. By the time his second book was published, his voice had been toughened by grappling with "man's madness," the bloody blossoming of the Second World War, and his tropes acquire a scientific precision, albeit without diminishment of his warm and ebullient lyricism. As the poet grows, so does his fascination with time, the relics that resist its erosion, and the friction between memories, dreams, and knowledge. And always Kunitz writes of love with wondering inventiveness. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Widely, deeply and deservedly admired, Kunitz celebrates his 95th birthday with his first comprehensive collection in decades. Kunitz's oeuvre divides neatly in half. The first half, written before the 1960s, consists of elaborately stylized, neo-Metaphysical odes and lyrics, variously evocative of Blake, Yeats, Hart Crane and Allen Tate: "Engaged in exquisite analysis/ Of passionate destruction, lovers kiss;// In furious involvement they would make/ A double meaning single." Long out of print, these earlier poems won Kunitz a Pulitzer for his 1958 Selected. His current reputation rests justly on his very different, clearer, more obviously personal late poemsÄcontemporary monuments of visionary clarity and understated wisdom, cast in long sentences and in short free-verse lines. These entirely convincing worksÄmany of which are found in 1995's National Book Award-winning, Passing Through, a new-and-selectedÄreflect on justice, politics and the Vietnam War; on parenthood, divorce and happy remarriage; and (as one might expect) on advancing age. They also bring Kunitz face to face with a cast of remarkable ghostsÄamong them Dante; Roman gladiators; prehistoric Americans' "earth-faced chorus of the lost"; Abe Lincoln; Jewish mystics; "the larva of the tortoise beetle"; a bevy of outsider artists; and the poet's father, who died when Kunitz was young. One lyric revisits the poet's childhood dream: "Bolt upright in my bed that night/ I saw my father flying;/ the wind was walking on my neck/ the windowpanes were crying." Other poems examine inland Massachusetts (where Kunitz grew up) and Cape Cod (where he lives); several translate the Russian modernists Mandelstam and Akhmatova. Concise and deeply affecting, the later Kunitz is easy to love, but hard to describe, since his craft consists so much in hard thought and hard-won simplicity. His works of the last few decades are permanent things; readers without Passing Through should pick up this more permanent collection. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It's hard to quarrel with this volume, which collects seven decades' worth of stellar work from one of America's foremost poets. Direct and down-to-earth, Kunitz addresses love, loss, and the gritty everyday in poems that are remarkably consistent in style and texture from the early 1930s to the late 1990s. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Reflectionsp. 13
from Intellectual Things (1930)
Changep. 17
Single Visionp. 18
Particular Lullabyp. 20
Promise Mep. 21
Strange Calendarp. 22
Poemp. 23
Deciduous Branchp. 25
The Words of the Preacherp. 26
Ambergrisp. 27
Approach of Autumnp. 28
The Pivotp. 29
Hep. 30
Very Treep. 31
Prophecy on Lethep. 33
Lovers Relentlesslyp. 34
Nocturnep. 35
For Proserpinep. 36
Partingp. 37
I Dreamed That I Was Oldp. 38
Night-Piecep. 39
Between Me and the Rockp. 40
Transformationsp. 41
First Lovep. 42
Last Wordsp. 43
Eaglep. 44
So Intricately Is This World Resolvedp. 45
Benedictionp. 46
In a Strange Housep. 48
Master and Mistressp. 49
Organic Bloomp. 50
Beyond Reasonp. 51
The Lessonp. 52
Vita Nuovap. 53
from Passport to the War (1944)
Reflection by a Mailboxp. 57
The Last Picnicp. 58
Welcome the Wrathp. 59
Night Letterp. 60
Father and Sonp. 62
The Hemorrhagep. 64
The Harsh Judgmentp. 66
Confidential Instructionsp. 67
The Signal from the Housep. 68
The Tutored Childp. 69
The Economist's Songp. 70
The Old Clothes Manp. 71
The Fitting of the Maskp. 73
The Supper Before Lastp. 75
The Daughters of the Horseleechp. 76
Careless Lovep. 77
The Guilty Manp. 78
Between the Actsp. 79
This Day This Worldp. 80
The Last Questionp. 81
How Long Is the Night?p. 82
The Reckoningp. 83
Open the Gatesp. 84
from This Garland, Danger, in Selected Poems: 1928-1958
The Science of the Nightp. 87
Green Waysp. 89
When the Light Fallsp. 90
Among the Godsp. 91
As Flowers Arep. 92
The Waltzer in the Housep. 93
Sotto Vocep. 94
Grammar Lessonp. 95
She Wept, She Railedp. 96
Foreign Affairsp. 97
The Unwithered Garlandp. 99
The Man Upstairsp. 100
The Approach to Thebesp. 101
The Dark and the Fairp. 103
The Thiefp. 105
End of Summerp. 108
Goose Pondp. 109
The Dragonflyp. 110
The War Against the Treesp. 113
The Thing That Eats the Heartp. 115
By Lamplightp. 116
The Scourgep. 117
Hermetic Poemp. 118
To the Reader (Baudelaire)p. 119
The Way Downp. 121
The Class Will Come to Orderp. 124
The Summing-Upp. 126
Revolving Meditationp. 127
A Spark of Laurelp. 130
from the Testing-Tree (1971)
Journal for My Daughterp. 135
An Old Cracked Tunep. 141
The Portraitp. 142
The Magic Curtainp. 143
After the Last Dynastyp. 146
The Illuminationp. 148
Robin Redbreastp. 149
River Roadp. 151
Summer Solstice (Mandelstam)p. 153
Tristia (Mandelstam)p. 154
The Mound Buildersp. 156
The Customs Collector's Reportp. 159
The Gladiatorsp. 161
The Systemp. 163
Around Pastor Bonhoefferp. 164
Bolsheviks (Stolzenberg)p. 167
Three Floorsp. 168
The Flight of Apollop. 169
King of the Riverp. 170
The Mulchp. 173
Indian Summer at Land's Endp. 174
Cleopatra (Akhmatova)p. 175
Dante (Akhmatova)p. 176
Boris Pasternak (Akhmatova)p. 177
The Artistp. 179
The Testing-Treep. 180
The Gamep. 184
from the Layers, in the Poems of Stanley Kunitz 1928-1978
The Knotp. 187
What of the Night?p. 188
Quinnapoxetp. 190
Words for the Unknown Makersp. 192
To a Slave Named Jobp. 192
Sacred to the Memoryp. 192
Girl with Samplerp. 193
Trompe l'Oeilp. 194
A Blessing of Womenp. 194
The Catchp. 197
The Crystal Cagep. 198
Signs and Portentsp. 200
Firesticksp. 203
The Lincoln Relicsp. 204
Meditations on Death (Ungaretti)p. 208
The Quarrelp. 212
The Unquiet Onesp. 213
My Sistersp. 214
Route Sixp. 215
The Layersp. 217
from Next-to-Last Things (1985)
The Snakes of Septemberp. 221
The Abductionp. 222
Raccoon Journalp. 224
The Old Darned Manp. 227
The Scene (Blok)p. 229
The Image-Makerp. 230
Lamplighter: 1914p. 231
Day of Forebodingp. 233
Three Small Parables for My Poet Friendsp. 234
The Roundp. 236
Passing Throughp. 238
The Long Boatp. 240
The Wellfleet Whalep. 241
from Passing Through: the Later Poems (1995)
My Mother's Pearsp. 249
Chariotp. 251
In the Dark Housep. 253
Halley's Cometp. 256
Hornworm: Summer Reveriep. 258
Hornworm: Autumn Lamentationp. 259
The Sea, That Has No Ending...p. 261
Proteusp. 264
Touch Mep. 266
Notesp. 267
Acknowledgmentsp. 279
Indexp. 281