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96%
4.25 

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thiruchencodu
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Mar 02, 2018 01:36 PM 631 Views

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It says a great deal about Stanley Kunitz that he was 95 when he was named Poet Laureate for the second


time. First, it reminds us that he lived to a great age-he died, in 2006, at 100- and was a vital talent right to the


end. And, even more, it underscores that his career was more of a marathon than a sprint. W.N. Auden got it


exactly: "It's strange, but give him time, A hundred years or so. He's patient man. He won't mind waiting." The really fascinating news, though, is that Stanley Kunitz continually improved as a poet. "Passing Through:


The Later Poems" - almost universally considered the best of his ten books-was published when he was 95. And,


for once, "best" and "most accessible" belong in the same sentence. For as he aged, Kunitz said, "I've learned to


strip the water out of my poems. " The result is a clarity and directness that makes Kunitz an ideal poet both for


people who only sort of like poetry and for those who like to dig into the poem and explore the layers in the story. Digging in: That's the right phrase to describe the pleasure of a Kunitz poem. He was a lifelong gardener,


and as soon as he arrived at his summer home on Cape Cod he was with his plants: tending, pruning, marvelling.


(His final book, published in 2007, is a gradening chronicle.) This connection with growing things is closely connected to the key issue of Kunitz's life and work -


parenting. An odd connection? Consider the biography. A few weeks before he was born, his father drank


carbolic acid and died. His mother, a tough-minded immigrant, raised two daughters and Stanley for eight years,


then married a charming, loving man who was like a father to the boy. Alas, he had a fatal heart attack four years later. The poems in "Passing Through" tough all the bases. Right off, we get the primary wound(which Kunitz


repeated by leaving his first wife and yound daughter.): "You say you had a father once/his name was absence. "


He has a healthy interest in women: "I think I'd rather sleep forever/than wake up cold/in a country without


women." He has a loving father's appreciation for his daughter: "I like the sound of your voice/even when you


phone from school/asking for money." And on the biggest topic of all in the readability. Peace! Peace! To be rocked by the Infinite! As if it didn't mater which way was home: as if he didn't know he loved the earth so much he wanted to stay forever.


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Passing Through - Stanley Kunitz
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