By Louis Simpson
Buckle up. Enjoy the ride!
How I wish Louis Simpson were still around! I would love to hear him read and expound his poetry. Simpson's At The End Of The Open Road won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1964.
His opening piece, "In California" is a preview of his ability (as Harper's notes), "to look at American dispassionately; and the image he evokes of it, both urban and rural, spares us nothing of its ugliness while at the same time never diminishing its sweep and vision.
Here is a portion of that poem:
Lie back! We cannot bear
The stars any more, those infinite spaces.
Let the realtors divide the mountain,
For they have already subdivided the valley.
Poetry is not my first love, or second, or third so a part of his work is beyond me. Still, much resonated. "The Redwoods" reminded me of Paul's words to the Romans, "For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed." The poems, "Frogs," and "My Father in the Night Commanding No" also caused me to pause and think. And then there was this arresting verse from "The Marriage of Pocahontas"
What will it avail you to take by force
What you may quickly have by love?
Poetry is a thinking game. Simpson's verses are worth playing.