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This is an unusual but marvelous poem. Thanks for the share. Report Reply. Palpable melancholy As I was reading this composition, I was telling myself that it comes across more like poetic prose. Then, I noticed that Philip Levine built into his lines a disclaimer: Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, Fair enough Report Reply.

The Simple Truth: Poems - Philip Levine - Google книги

Agreed, Michelle: Palpable melancholy. Well put. This poem is a bit of a sleeper, beginning with just the savoring of simple pleasures, but there are 2 turns. The first quoted by you is, as you say, fair enough. The second arrested my attention: My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in before I went away, before he began to kill himself, and the two of us to betray our love.

Where's he going with this. Well, he was a master of subtlety, and here he continues to tease us down that road into a broad, winding turn into the dark heart of the matter, starting with those 'tasteable tangibles: Can you taste what I'm saying? The voice of America from the jobs and small houses of second generation immigrants establishing a place in industrial might of our mid-Century.

A voice of grey smoke and dirty rivers and people getting up in the morning in the dark. Jan 18, Mike rated it it was amazing. That is why in the distance you see beyond the first ridge of low hills where nothing Ask for Nothing Instead walk alone in the evening heading out of town toward the fields asleep under a darkening sky; the dust risen from your steps transforms itself into a golden rain fallen earthward as a gift from no known god.

Jul 04, Jen rated it liked it Shelves: poetry. I'm not sure what prompted me to finally get a volume of Philip Levine's poetry. Perhaps I'd heard of his passing earlier this year. I've enjoyed other poems of his I've run across over the years. I chose The Simple Truth because it won him a Pulitzer so I thought it might represent some of his best work. However, I doubt that's t I'm not sure what prompted me to finally get a volume of Philip Levine's poetry. However, I doubt that's the case. My response to it was lukewarm, and while it may just be I'm not into Levine and much as I'd hoped, I'm going to give him another chance before letting him go.

The Simple Truth is a book of places and people, most especially family. In the midst of the book, I found myself wondering if I had ever read the work of a male poet who was so deeply connected to family. Family suffuses his work.

There is also grief, not only of those who have died but for the circumstances of those who live. Much of it is deeply sympathetic work. He sees into lives and renders them. However, he is most often looking back through his childhood eyes at people back then.

The Simple Truth

There's a feeling of him being arrested in that time. Nostalgia, yes, but also a hint of stagnation or stuckness. He would have been in his 60s when he wrote most of these poems, so that boyhood was a long way off. Still, his most intense, memorable poems come from is childhood and young adulthood. Levine's poems often present a solid column of text on the page.

They often draw a portrait or vignette.


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They're very rooted in a time and place. Here's an excerpt from another poem I enjoyed, "Getting There," in which a father and son presumably Levine and his son find themselves stranded due to car failure and are taken in by an old farmer. The old man returend from teh barn leading a goat on a rope, a white goat named ahab as though he'd gotten the story wrong.

Teddy stared out over the acres of wheat, stretching all the way to those mountains we had yet to cross, stared, and would not begin to smile or come down to earth, while the great day went on. This is from midway in "The Poem of Chalk. There was nothing wrong with the poetry in this volume, it just didn't move me. Dec 30, Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing. The poems in this collection are deceptively simple, "naked and alone". They generally involve an incident or person, recollected by the poet from his past.

The incident is recounted in bare unrhymed lines, without hyperbole or judgment. We are encouraged to see the incident, as we see the still life reproduced on the cover of the volume and to let it "stand for itself". The poems are elegiac in tone and the effect of the memory is generally one of deep sadness. Many of the poems have a deliberately pictorial quality, as reflected in their titles, that remind one of a photo or of a painting in a museum.

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In many cases, the reader is tempted to conceive in the mind's eye a painting to accompany the poem. This is true, particularly, as the book progresses into its final section with its descriptions of the poet's mother "My Mother with Purse, the Summer they Murdered the Spanish Poet" , father "My Father with Cigarette Twelve Years before the Nazis could Break his Heart" , and others "Edward Lieberman, Entrepreneur, four years after the Burnings on Okinawa" One of the poems of the collection is title simply "Photography".

Ironically, this poem is less pictorial than many others. It relates a sad incident from the poet's childhood involving his Aunt, and others, and focuses on the ravages of time and memory. The poems also focus on the role imagination plays in constituting our reality. The first poem of the collection "On the Meeting of Garcia Lorca and Hart Crane" relates a meeting between these two romantic 20th Century poets and alludes to Crane's apparent suicide in jumping from a ship bound from Vera Cruz to New York.

Jun 03, Ann rated it it was amazing. This Pulitzer Prize-winning volume by the great American poet Philip Levine deserves its heady accolades. Harold Bloom wrote at the time of its release: "I wonder if any American poet since Walt Whitman himself has written elegies this consistently magnificent. The controlled pathos of every poem in the volume is immense, and gives me a new sense of Levine. Some highlights: from "The Poem of Chalk: On the way to lower Broadway this morning I faced a tall man speaking to a piece of chalk held in his right hand.

The left was open, and it kept the beat, for his speech had a rhythm, was a chant or dance, perhaps even a poem in French, for he was from Senegal and spoke French He had the bearing of a king of lower Broadway, someone out of the mind of Shakespeare or Garcia Lorca, someone for whom loss has sweetened into charity. Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker, the glass of water I only wish I'd been that tiny kid who fought back through his tears, swearing he would not go quietly.

He insists, he names the drugstore where I poured a milkshake over the head of an Episcopalian with quick fists as tight as croquet balls. Sorrow mixed with humor: the simple truth. All hail, Levine! Dec 08, Katherine Emery rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: anyone who breathes. May 31, Daniel Rosler rated it really liked it. Bought this on a whim because I saw Cameron McGill post about it.


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  • Needed something to read, and he spoke so fondly of it. Can't deny I was curious, though it appears superficial, that it won the '95 Pulitzer Prize. At first, I wasn't sure if I was enjoying it.

    Song of the simple truth : obra completa poética : the complete poems

    But the more I got accustomed to Levine's style, the more I fell in love. Absolutely feeling inspired thanks to this collection. Jan 31, Sam rated it really liked it Shelves: fun-lit , usa , poetry. This guy came to me by way of Joseph Millar recommendation. It's obvious that Levine has been a strong influence on Millar and others, I would assume : long lines, narrative poems, descriptions of work, occasional references to the Spanish Civil War Among the many, many collections that Levine published, I grabbed this one because it won the Pulitzer.

    Maybe this feeling could have been avoided by reading the collection more slowly, and I definitely do feel like I will revisit some of these poems in the future. Something that did rub me the wrong way is that these are very self-focused poems. Someone like Joe Millar, for example, writes poetry in the same vein but also brings in other characters. With Levine, in this book at least, he is at the front and center and end.

    His wife is only a passing reference, as are children. Figures from his family enter the picture but hardly appear more than once. Like I said though, maybe this is only the case in the one poetry collection. Jun 06, Wardah Beg rated it really liked it Shelves: poetry. After a succession of industrial jobs, he left the city for good and lived in various parts of the country before settling in Fresno, California, where he taught at the state university until his retirement.

    For twelve autumns he served as poet in residence at New York University. In he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.

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