Cover image for The last uncle
The last uncle
Pastan, Linda, 1932-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 77 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3566.A775 L37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In The Last Uncle, Linda Pastan writes, "If death is everywhere we look, / at least let's marry it to beauty." The poems in this new collection deal with loss and the difficult transition between generations, but they are also about love and landscape and the many pleasures of the imagination.

Author Notes

Linda Pastan lives in Potomac, maryland.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Maryland's former poet laureate plays to her strengths in this restrained and sensitive 11th collection. Readers have long loved Pastan (Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998) for her quiet lyrics of suburban domestic life, of marital love and motherhood, and of grief. Many new poems concentrate on the last of these subjects, linking her own aging body, and the loss of older relatives, to what she sees in gardens and trees, in European travels, in American Jewish history or in visual art. Medical and familial experience common to older Americans drives several bittersweet poems. In one, "the ophthalmologist told me gravely/ that I didn't produce enough tears"; in another, "I look at my aging/ children. Ask me, I want/ to tell them. Ask me now." Seasonal motifs and family members together control almost the whole volume, from "Another Autumn" ("Was love enough, even then?") to the 12 12-line poems called "The Months," with which the volume concludes. While Pastan's domestic lyric still lacks the intellectual heft of seemingly similar work (by, say, Louise Glick), this work remains deeply felt and will certainly please her existing broad audience. Whether in short lines or long, outdoors or indoors, she seeks a fluent, accessible lyric seriousness, finding in seasonal and domestic properties ("daffodils," "doctors," "the door knocker," "the deer") signs of mortality, gratitude and wonder. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"The pills I take to postpone death/ are killing me," writes Pastan in her new collection of poems, her 11th in about 35 years. Here she deals with loss, with death and other passings, and with the often curious journey through the stages of aging. However, in these careful, insightful considerations of time and its occasional rough edges, the poet finds much to celebrate: the hard-won beauty of her son's piano playing; the "love and/ disobedience" of her dog, who is given to sit regardless of the command; a tree surrounded by "a dozen monarchs/ and swallowtailsas if they were/ its second crop of blossoms." These are the things to remember, to praise: a branch outside the window, soon to be kindling; an old car going to rust; "the 8th dog of my life;/ the 10th scribbled book./ And love turning its back on endings/ one more time." Pastan has done a good job of turning our attention to what really matters. "If death is everywhere we look,/ at least let's marry it to beauty." Pastan's poems are always worth our attention. Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. "Women on the Shore"p. 3
Practicingp. 4
Musep. 5
Tearsp. 6
A Glass of Cold Waterp. 7
To a Poet, Recently Silentp. 8
Austerityp. 9
The Invalidp. 10
Death of a Potterp. 11
The Answering Machinep. 12
Gracep. 13
The Dangerous Month of Marchp. 14
The Cossacksp. 15
2. Memory's Guestp. 19
Family Historyp. 20
Frances and Mary Allen, Sewing Group, ca. 1900p. 21
The Lost Kingdomp. 22
March 5p. 23
Reading the Obituary Pagep. 24
Potsyp. 25
Bessp. 26
Armonkp. 27
Another Autumnp. 28
The Last Unclep. 29
3. Penultimate Thingsp. 33
Weatherp. 34
Husbandryp. 35
Late Love Songsp. 36
The Vanity of Namesp. 38
To Penelopep. 39
43rd Anniversaryp. 40
White Liesp. 41
Round the Mulberry Bushp. 42
4. The Crossingp. 49
Near the Sacrificial Sitep. 50
We Get What We Wish For at Our Perilp. 51
Ghiacciop. 52
Fibulap. 53
Wherever We Travelp. 54
Gone Missingp. 55
graffiti, route 22p. 56
Crowsp. 57
Traveloguep. 58
The Islandsp. 59
Effets de Neige: Impressionists in Winterp. 60
After a Long Absence, I Return to a Site of Former Happinessp. 61
5. The Butterfly Treep. 65
The Death of the Beep. 66
Thresholdp. 67
Famep. 68
Oak Leavesp. 69
Poison Ivyp. 70
In the Gardenp. 71
The Monthsp. 72