RETURN TO A PLACE LIT BY A GLASS OF MILK by Charles Simic

RETURN TO A PLACE LIT BY A GLASS OF MILK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a brilliant first collection of poems by an author who has published extensively in The New Yorker, Poetry, and Kayak. He delights in riddles and paradoxes; the impossibility of writing (""Whatever/ Is destroyed/ Each time/ It is named"") but the necessity and poignancy of doing so: ""There's no point,/ Says the story/ Afraid to go on. . ./ Perhaps this evening/ Reflects its final blackness. . ./ Before it dissolves into a tear."" He is mystical about the ordinary, sees worlds within worlds, the continuity of micro and macrocosm, meanwhile aware -- as he ""piss(es) in the sink/ with a feeling of/ eternity"" that other people are living their ordinary lives: ""Tony ate/ a hot pepper. Sylvia weighs/ herself naked on the bathroom/ scale. Gary owes $800 to the/ Internal Revenue. . . ."" He goes from the mundane to the sublime and occasionally back again, all within the same poem -- piling up foolishnesses with such abandon that they achieve a kind of bravura genius before dissolving into absurdity: ""The chicken without a head made a sigh,/ And then a hailstone out of that sigh,/ And a window for the hailstone to strike./ Nine lives it made for itself/ And nine coats of solitude to dress them in./ It made its own shadow. No, I'm lying./ It only made a bedbug to bite some holes in the shadow./ Made it all out of nothing."" These are poems of imagination, wit, and elegance by a poet who can recreate the paradoxes of a world that fills him with great wonder.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Publisher: Braziller