Cover image for Now that my father lies down beside me : new & selected poems, 1970-2000
Now that my father lies down beside me : new & selected poems, 1970-2000
Plumly, Stanley.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ecco Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 157 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Home Location
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PS3566.L78 N69 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In this collection of new and selected poems, Stanley Plumly moves from the pastoral to the familial, from the mundane to the transcendent. Melodic and firmly rooted in nature, Plumly's Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems 1970-2000 deepens and sharpens the themes of his work. The result is a musical, multifaceted, and deeply moving series of poems-a panoramic view of thirty years of poetic inquiry.

With lapidary precision Plumly surveys the range of human emotion and experience. Translating the world around us into a language exquisitely attuned to the poignance of the everyday, Plumly confronts grief and joy in half-remembered dreams, the elusive beauty of the past, and the richness and wonder of the present. Whether examining the elaborate courtship of a cluster of redwings, the ineffable pleasure of childhood naps, the Jewish cemetery in Prague, or the death of his father, Plumly exhibits the mastery of a poet at the height of his lyric powers.

Plumly dares to examine time-honored objects of beauty in unexpected ways that challenge poetic expectations. What he discovers in these images has made him one of our strongest and most memorable lyricists and places his work within an American tradition that began with Emerson and the best of the transcendentalists. This collection, his most comprehensive to date, exemplifies the American lyric at its finest.

Author Notes

Stanley Plumly is Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Plumly, author of six poetry collections and recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Award, presents his newest poems first, so that readers travel back in time to meet his younger self. Thirty years ago, he wrote with a sweet tentativeness, wary of poetry's depths and mysterious currents. But he quickly gained mastery in lustrous sonnets and more robust and page-filling forms without losing his gentleness and receptivity. In fact, he became such a strong swimmer in the great sea of prosody that he made the ocean a recurrent metaphor in his lyrics, whether heard in the beat of a laboring heart or sensate in the salt of the blood. Plumly also writes often of the in-between states of near-sleep or near-waking, and of people slowly dying, already ghostly. He often remembers his diffident father, ending this quietly beautiful collection with the title poem. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Selecting from six collections spanning 30 years, this well-focused collection starts off with new poems and works backwards, forming a single unbroken arc that nicely maps Plumly's poetic obsessions: a drunk father, avine fauna and city vagrants, and meditations on larger-than-life figures like Keats and friends like William Matthews. A pre-modernist aesthetic predominates, moving through a gamut of forms from blank to metrical verse, and the whole is suffused with an elegiac tone that is always credible if rarely surprising. Most of the poems stick to hushed description; earlier ones, like "For Esther" or the title poem, are more willing to make additive leaps: "There is no star in the sky of this room,/ only the light fashioning fish along the walls./ They swim and swallow one another." At least two poems ("Souls of Suicides as Birds" and "Cedar Waxwing on Scarlet Firethorn") join birdsong to human grief in an ecstatic swoon: "before the treesA/ to be alive in secret, this is what/ we wanted, and here, as when we die what/ lives is fluted on the air." Plumly's poems are, without exception, exceptionally well-made, though the pathos-of-my-labors that drives poems like "Complaint Against the Arsonist" ("This pyrrhic fire the barn burned down and blew back/ into the dust-weight of its carbonbarn I spent the summer part-time painting") can seem a little shopworn. Often enough, however, something ravenous emerges, as in the free-verse "Woman on Twenty-Second Eating Berries," a poem that weaves together many of Plumly's leitmotifs. There, the title persona feasts on "Poor grapes, poor crabs,/ wild black cherry trees, on which some forty-six/ or so species of birds have fed, some boy's dead/ weight or the tragic summer lightning killing/ the seed." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Throughout this accomplished poet's previous six books, the presence of his father, who died in 1973 of complications of alcoholism at the age of 56, has been very real. In an interview in the Iowa Review (Fall, 1973), Plumly commented, "I can hardly think of a poem I've written that at some point in its history did not implicate, or figure, my father." This latest collection, which includes many poems published in earlier collections (including the book's final poem) as well as some new ones, brings the father's presence into the book's title for the first time: "Whatever two we were, we become/ one falling body, one breath." Plumly, who has taught at the University of Houston and the University of Maryland, College Park, writes in an accessible style, dreamlike though rooted in reality, musical, graceful, but with an eerily tragic undercurrent: "and when we drive along the white glide of the river,/ the high wheat grass like water in the wind,/ someone in joy running from the house,/ the story is already breaking down." Highly recommended.DJudy Clarence, California State Univ., Hayward Lib. CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Grieversp. 1
Napsp. 2
Pianop. 4
November 11, 1942-November 12, 1997p. 6
Turn, Counterturn, Standp. 8
Kunitz Tending Rosesp. 10
In the Old Jewish Cemetery in Praguep. 12
Comment on Thom Gunn's "In Santa Maria Del Popolo" Concerning Caravaggio's The Conversion of St. Paulp. 13
Straysp. 15
Wightp. 17
Moviep. 18
Cheerp. 19
Catbird Beginning with a Cardinalp. 21
Cardinalp. 23
Sicklep. 25
Woman on Twenty-Second Eating Berriesp. 26
Reading with the Poetsp. 27
Will Work for Foodp. 29
Snipersp. 31
Souls of Suicides as Birdsp. 33
Conan Doyle's Copper Beechesp. 35
Humility Elmp. 37
For My Father, Dead at Fifty-six, on My Fifty-sixth Birthdayp. 39
Dovep. 40
Dwarf with Violin, Government Center Stationp. 41
Almsp. 42
Keats in Burns Countryp. 44
Shadowerp. 46
Panegyric for Geep. 47
One-Legged Wooden Redwingp. 49
The Art of Poetryp. 51
Doves in Januaryp. 54
In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerelp. 55
Lazarus at Dawnp. 56
The Last Parentp. 58
Drunksp. 59
The Marriage in the Treesp. 62
Nobody Sleepsp. 63
Cardinals in a Shower at Union Squarep. 65
Detail Waiting for a Trainp. 67
Fieldp. 68
Farragut Northp. 69
Complaint Against the Arsonistp. 70
William Matthews's Armistice Poppiesp. 72
Constable's Clouds for Keatsp. 74
Hedgerowsp. 76
Analogies of the Leafp. 78
Against Starlingsp. 80
Cedar Waxwing on Scarlet Firethornp. 83
The Wyoming Poetry Circuitp. 85
Toward Umbriap. 88
Birthdayp. 90
Cloud Buildingp. 91
Infidelityp. 93
Above Barnesvillep. 94
Pityriasis Rosaceap. 98
The Foundry Gardenp. 99
Men Working on Wingsp. 101
Fountain Parkp. 103
With Stephen in Mainep. 104
Four Appaloosasp. 105
Early and Late in the Monthp. 106
The James Wright Annual Festivalp. 108
Coming into La Guardia Late at Nightp. 110
Boy on the Stepp. 111
Tree Fernsp. 118
After Whistlerp. 119
Wildflowerp. 121
In Passingp. 123
Posthumous Keatsp. 125
Promising the Airp. 127
My Mother's Feetp. 128
Sonnetp. 129
Summer Celestialp. 130
Fifth and 94thp. 132
Blossomp. 133
For Judith on Valentine's Dayp. 135
American Ashp. 138
Another Novemberp. 140
The Iron Lungp. 141
Rainbowp. 143
Say Summer/For My Motherp. 144
Peppergrassp. 145
For Estherp. 146
Wrong Side of the Riverp. 151
Out-of-the-Body Travelp. 152
Giraffep. 153
Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Mep. 155