ONE LONG POEM by William Harmon


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Harmon (Treasury Holiday; Legion: Civil Choruses) is an underappreciated poet, abundant proof of which comes here--in a book that mixes high and low as elegantly and steadily as a good bartender making a pousse-cafÉ. Harmon can be very funny, as in ""The Lilies of the Field Know Which Side Their Bread Is Buttered On."" He can craftily foam up vernacular mixtures: ""One sunset as sentimental as a Balkan banknote,/ Another resembling a really busy beach,/ Horizontal echelons, robust with blue plus red/ There, there, and there gold-machiolated."" And he has a gift for acid parody, as in a poem called ""Stevens"": ""Memorial umbrellas congregate/ Among the ordnance and bridges of edgy banjos/ Whose randy badinage lifts saffron mangoes."" But, in addition, Harmon is a poet of sneakily effective progressions (the superb ""Where Scars Come From"") as well as a first-rate, Zukofskian musician: ""Shifting hinges sing dry numbers/ Until the winds die down and sleep awhile/ Without gnashing or rapid eye movement."" Or: ""Again the time and blood consuming sun crosses its corner/With a web of new born light/ And there the last stars literally starve."" When you put literary panache, wit, and lovely sound together, a voice is irresistible. Harmon's, here, is exactly that.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1982
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press