The Collected Poems
In his preface to The Collected Poems, Price credits guides as various as Miss Jane Alston, a public school English teacher in North Carolina, and W. H. Auden, one of his teachers at Oxford University. The sure trajectory of Price's development as a poet is traced from the "inexplicable elation" of his adolescent discovery of Emily Dickinson, to a lengthy immersion in John Milton's "polyphonic language, with its ready access to the eloquence of plain speech," to the four-stress rhythm of the Anglo-Saxons and Coleridge on which his work often continues to depend -- that rhythm being "closely allied to the wary economy and dignity of those kinds of speech that, in my lifetime, have been most concerned for lucid and memorable communication."
Those familiar with Price's earlier work will welcome having in one volume such vivid contributions as "The Annual Heron" (from Vital Provisions), "House Snake" (The Laws of Ice) and "An Afterlife, 1953 -- 1988" (The Use of Fire). All will be introduced for the first time to his latest poems from the journal called "Days and Nights." This notebook was begun in the early 1980s, shortly before Price was diagnosed with a grave illness; and the entries continue in the second of three parts of The Unaccountable Worth of the World, many of them contending with the death of friends -- "the Dying Belt, as my father called it." The whole new collection culminates in the powerful departures of such poems as "Scored by Light" and "The Closing, The Ecstasy."
The Collected Poems reveals, throughout, the accumulated variety of Reynolds Price's years as a poet -- the thematic breadth, formal steadiness, narrative vitality and intense lyricism that have marked his work since 1961. It is a landmark in his creative life and in the span of contemporary American verse.
Author Reynolds Price Offers These Words of Wisdom to Readers
Read an Excerpt
THE DREAM OF A HOUSE
There seems no question the house is mine.
I'm told it first at the start of the tour --
"This is yours, understand. Meant for you.
Permanent." I nod gratitude,
Containing the flower of joy in my mouth --
I knew it would come if I waited, in time.
It's now all round me -- and I catalog blessings
Tangible as babies: the floors wide teak
Boards perfectly joined, the walls dove plaster.
At either end a single picture,
Neither a copy -- Piero's Nativity
With angel glee-club, Vermeer's pregnant... see more
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