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Book Title: The Book of Gods and Devils|
ISBN 13: 9780156135467
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 33.98 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Charles Simic
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: November 30th 1990
Loaded: 2473 times
Reader ratings: 7.8
Read full description of the books:
I wrote to Charles Simic this past winter. Like a total stalker, I followed a trail of breadcrumbs that lead me to his university email address. Having had a few drinks by this time, I shrugged off anxiety and wrote to him. I told of a time when a volume of his poetry played a critical role in a very sentimental moment of my life, one that had a short-lived but important resonance. Much to my surprise and joy, he responded only a day later. His email was short and minimalist, but shared a personal story that read as if perpendicular to my own, which was quite touching that he had taken the time to respond and also to swap stories with me as f I were a familiar. Like an awestruck child, I had concluded my own email with a query into his favorite poems to read aloud, to which Mr. Simic responded in favor of his poem Shelley¹. The poem is indeed wonderful, especially when read aloud. The Book of Gods and Devils is the rightfully published home for said poem, and is a charming little volume as a whole. Several greats—In the Library also worth special mention—are contained within and showcases a mid-career Simic with a proud and confident voice picking away at the marble towards the fine details of his poetic self-sculpture. Here is the poem Simic selected:
Poet of the dead leaves driven like ghosts,
Driven like pestilence-stricken multitudes,
I read you first
One rainy evening in New York City,
In my atrocious Slavic accent,
Saying the mellifluous verses
From a battered, much-stained volume
I had bought earlier that day
In a second-hand bookstore on Fourth Avenue
Run by an initiate of the occult masters.
The little money I had being almost spent,
I walked the streets my nose in the book.
I sat in a dingy coffee shop
With last summer’s dead flies on the table.
The owner was an ex-sailor
Who had grown a huge hump on his back
While watching the rain, the empty street.
He was glad to have me sit and read.
He’d refill my cup with a liquid dark as river Styx.
Shelley spoke of a mad, blind, dying king;
Of rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know;
Of graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.
I too felt like a glorious phantom
Going to have my dinner
In a Chinese restaurant I knew so well.
It had a three-fingered waiter
Who’d bring my soup and rice each night
Without ever saying a word.
I never saw anyone else there.
The kitchen was separated by a curtain
Of glass beads which clicked faintly
Whenever the front door opened.
The front door opened that evening
To admit a pale little girl with glasses.
The poet spoke of the everlasting universe
Of things – of gleams of a remoter world
Which visit the soul in sleep –
Of a desert peopled by storms alone –
The streets were strewn with broken umbrellas
Which looked like funereal kites
This little Chinese girl might have made.
The bars on MacDougal Street were emptying.
There had been a fist fight.
A man leaned against a lamp post arms extended as if
The rain washing the blood off his face.
In a dimly lit side street,
Where the sidewalk shone like a ballroom mirror
At closing time –
A well-dressed man without any shoes
Asked me for money.
His eyes shone, he looked triumphant
Like a fencing master
Who had just struck a mortal blow.
How strange it all was – The world’s raffle
That dark October night –
The yellowed volume of poetry
With its Splendors and Glooms
Which I studied by the light of storefronts:
Drugstores and barbershops,
Afraid of my small windowless room
Cold as a tomb of an infant emperor.
¹ A high-five to those of you whose minds skipped right to Percy Bysshe Shelley, who is often praises and analyzed in the essays of Simic, Virginia Woolf, Yeats and Mary Ruefle (Ruefle talks extensively about Shelley in her collected lectures, a volume that is indispensable to any would-be writer).
Hear Simic read Shelley.
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Read information about the authorCharles Simic (born Dušan Simić) is a Serbian-American poet and the 15th Poet Laureate of the United States. He is co-Poetry Editor of the Paris Review. Simic is the 2007 recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. This $100,000 (US) prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.
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