NEXT-TO-LAST THINGS by Stanley Kunitz


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Recent poems--braiding themes of old age and (a Kunitz hallmark) animals or creatureliness--begin this miscellany; two--""The Image Maker"" and ""Passing Through"" (""Whatever you cloose to claim/of me is always yours;/nothing is truly mine/except by name. I only/borrowed this dust"")--are quite strong. The rest here is prose in one largely occasional form or other: Kunitz's interview with The Paris Review, short memoirs of Robert Lowell and Philip Guston, a brief clutch of apothegms, meditations. Everything exposes Kunitz as one of our least whimsical men of letters. ""Ultimately poetry does not affect us by meeting any arbitrary test of metrical or prosodic excellence but by satisfying our hunger for a language that crystallizes our intuitions and makes a syntax out of the crises of our survival."" Along similar lines: ""A poet's collected work is his book of changes. The great meditations on death have a curious exaltation. I suppose it comes from the realization, even on the threshold, that one isn't done with one's changes.""As the title indicates, a book--the slightest bit tired and humorless--from that threshold.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1985
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown