Publication Year: 2013
Praise for David R. Slavitt
"Slavitt's touch is light, and he writes beautifully.... His satire is sharp, and he can be wildly funny." -- New York Times Book Review
"One of America's most lucid and classical poets.... Slavitt's attitude is, as one would expect of a Hebrew as well as Greco-Latin classicist, sharply questioning as well as tragic. He is a poet one reads to know more." -- Booklist
"Slavitt is both smart and wise; he's as well known for his translations of the writers of antiquity as he is for his original work, both poetry and prose.... With a rich sense of humor, a bit of attitude, and a fascination with details, even minutiae, Slavitt tries his hand at new and curious measures and forms as well as seemingly free-range meditations -- or, one might say, meanderings." -- Library Journal
The bravura of David R. Slavitt's first book of poems, published more than fifty years ago, continues to reverberate through his newest collection in a voice matured and roughened by age.
Civil Wars conjures the mutterings of old men: meditations -- despondent yet playfully witty and bold -- on the meaning of life and death, the reasoning for human action or inaction, and misremembered memories. Nothing proves too lofty or too trifling for the poet's scrutiny. Slavitt's attention roves from the carnage inflicted by the Achaeans at Troy, to the performances of Borrah Minevich and the Harmonica Rascals, from meditations on Spinoza to the baseball of the New York Yankees. He considers with deliberation all of these subjects and deems them necessary to help create a spiritual connection in our lives. Slavitt encourages contemplation of the world and writing rather than acceptance of the thoughts of the critic, who "comes, austere, a man of authority, / and offers to help" but only dilutes the power of a poem. In this collection, Slavitt also includes translations of Greek, Hebrew, Proven?al, French, and Old English poems, including a little-known piece by the mathematician Pierre de Fermat and the Old English epic poem "The Battle of Maldon."
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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Award, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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part one: Poems
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Above the cincture (or is it a sphincter?) the narrow now of the enormousis irrelevant. Our worry is above: even if we could who would dare look?...
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It may be, but when I’m asleep, I can’t hear it. So it is only there if I am A high hiss, the kind of noise a steam radiator used to make. It is the sound my brain perceives, and the brain believes in itself—as how A steam-operated brain? Why not? But it could as easily be a sound that the body makes—of blood passing through the tiny vessels. It is not ...
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...that the words will live on, that our hold on someone’s attention...
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The body was taken to move on a small circle, the epicycle, the center of which itself moved on a circle, the deferent, around the center of the world. In most cases the deferent was an eccentric circle like that of the sun. In the case of the moon, the eccentric deferent itself constituted a large epicycle turning on a smaller deferent centered on the earth. From a starting ...
Epitaph for a Headmaster
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...“If they’re old enough to be having sex, they’re too old to be at Andover.”...
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...* Fred and Susan Chappell, Kelly Cherry and Burke Davis III, Richard Dillard, Brendan and Ellen Galvin, George and Susan Garrett, Henry and Mooshe Taylor, and Janet Abrahm....
The Washing of the Bodies
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...so they washed away the blood that was on them and, weeping warm tears,...
part two: Renditions
“Give Way to God, or The Dying Christ,”
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...and the blasts of storms in the air are tame and loving subjects.shines with a pure brightness, for he pulled light out of light,Meanwhile, descending from heaven was the comfort for which he had prayed,the night in prayer. His companions, who ought to keep watch with him,and the prayers he offers. The business of heaven is far beyond them...
Page Count: 80
Publication Year: 2013