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Anterooms: New Poems and Translations por…
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Anterooms: New Poems and Translations (original 2010; edição 2010)

por Richard Wilbur (Autor)

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A collection of twenty-two poems and translations accompanied by thirty-seven riddles translated from the Latin.
Título:Anterooms: New Poems and Translations
Autores:Richard Wilbur (Autor)
Informação:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2010), Edition: First, 80 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca

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Anterooms: New Poems and Translations por Richard Wilbur (2010)

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I first heard Richard Wilbur’s A Pasture Poem being recited on a radio program a couple years ago. I remember how much I loved this poem about the life and waning of a Thistle and recently went searching for it. After several false starts that kept ending at Edna St. Vincent Millay’s A Few Figs from Thistles (a delightful detour, as it turns out), I at last located the poem here as part of Anterooms.

Here is a link to listen to the poem being read aloud (it begins at 3:20):

A Pasture Poem

“Summer will grow old
As will the thistle, letting
A clenched bloom unfold

To which the small hum
Of bee-wings and the flash of
Goldfinch-wings will come”

I spent last night reading these poems and was enchanted with several of them. Others I found just so-so but the ones I liked really moved me. These include The House, The Measuring Worm, Terza Rima, Anterooms, Soon, A Pasture Poem, and Some Words Inside of Words. The translations went a little over my head, but I also found enjoyment in the 37 Riddles that conclude the book. They feel almost like rhyming haikus.

It helps to gain perspective if you know that the author wrote these poems at 89 years old. He is as sharp as ever; I’m referring only to themes I noticed while reading that seem especially relevant to a person later in life. For example, The House is a tender poem about widowhood (see Richard Barager’s great interpretation) and Anterooms contemplates time’s seeming relativity within the mind- how years can seem to fly by or almost stand still- and then shifts into a dream space where the living and the dead can coexist. My favorite poem of all is The Measuring Worm about a caterpillar inching his way up the window screen, but it took me a few readings before I figured out where the author was going with the ending. To do that I had to pretend I was 89 too. Referring to the caterpillar, the last lines say:

“It’s as if he sent
By a sort of semaphore
Dark omegas meant

To warn of Last Things
Although he doesn’t know it,
He will soon have wings,

And I too don’t know
Toward what undreamt condition
Inch by inch I go.”

To me this is as eloquent a musing on death as Hamlet’s soliloquy on the matter where he wonders about the other side (‘the undiscovered country / from whose bourn no traveler returns’). Only instead of necessarily being fearful, this poem could be hopeful; the caterpillar emerges in a new magical form as a winged moth or butterfly.

One final thought: I want to applaud the artists who arranged the cover of this book. It is such an ethereal image – the silvery blue background with the delicate wisps of lacy foliage on the front. I can’t stop looking at the cover it is so lovely.

( )
  averybird | Dec 28, 2015 |
I had not previously read Richard Wilbur, but I felt I needed to when I saw his pedigree- a National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for literature, two awards from PEN, and the list goes on. Anterooms, published November 2010, features new poems, a few translations, and thirty-seven riddles from Symphosius.

The volume begins with “The House,” a beautiful and gentle little poem about longing for a lost love. The speaker hopes to find his love in his dreams in the house that she often dreamed about.

Is she now there, wherever there may be?
Only a foolish man would hope to find
That haven fashioned by her dreaming mind.
Night after night, my love, I put to sea.

“The House” sets the tone for the rest of the volume, which is divided into four sections. Wilbur is entering his 90th year, and the poems in the volume often muse on memory, aging, and death; but they are never overly dark. In fact there is quite a bit of humor and whimsy.

Wilbur is a master of traditional forms, and often turns to nature for his metaphors. “A Measuring Worm” examines a “yellow-striped green” inch worm making its way up a screen. The speaker notes that the worm probably doesn’t know that it will soon have wings, and then states: “And I too don’t know / Toward what undreamt condition / Inch by inch I go.” The poem is written in an interesting form of five haiku tercets with the first and last line rhyming. He uses the form in several of the poems in the first section, including the title poem, which again meditates on dreams and the meeting of the living and the dead.

In “Terza Rima,” it almost seems that Wilbur is showing off his mastery of form and style as he writes in the title form how one can say anything no matter how dreadful using terza rima, as Dante proved in Inferno. Wilbur then recounts how he ran over a dead enemy soldier with his jeep in World War II. Though it slips from the simple to the dark and startling, Wilbur never gets bogged down in the negative. He is simply searching for truths.

In the second section, Wilbur translates poems by Stephane Mallarme, Paul Verlaine, Horace, and Joseph Brodsky. I’m sure these translations attest to his mastery as a poet and translator, but they were not my favorites. I’m uncultured at times. What can I say?

Section three returns to Wilbur’s poems and a variety of topics beginning with “Out Here,” which is a whimsical meditation on a snow shovel that has been left out in July. There is a Broadway musical like song lyric, and “Some Words Inside Words,” which is playful and directed towards children. Section four is the translation of thirty-seven riddles by Symphosius. Again, I think these attest to Wilbur’s mastery, but I couldn’t force myself to read them all.

Anterooms is in all ways evidence that Richard Wilbur is a master. The book is a pleasant change from the obscure, neurotic, and hallucinogenic style that permeates much of contemporary poetry. Wilbur is a genuine craftsman- concise and elegant. ( )
  wilsonknut | Dec 27, 2010 |
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A collection of twenty-two poems and translations accompanied by thirty-seven riddles translated from the Latin.

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