Words by the Water by William Jay Smith
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Words by the Water
By William Jay Smith

Words by the Water

By (author) See other recent books by William Jay Smith
Format: Paperback

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Words by the Water by William Jay Smith

Book Description

William Jay Smith has been one of the most respected figures on the literary scene for more than half a century. Two of his thirteen poetry collections were finalists for the National Book Award, and the present volume is clearly the work of a true American master. The volume opens with a poetic sequence, "The Atoll," concerning the tiny coral island of Palmyra during World War II. Finding himself on the narrow rim of an extinct volcano at almost the exact center of the Pacific, water on all sides, breakers pounding the reef, the poet evokes the distinct sensation that he had of being at the heart of Herman Melville's "oceans vast." In lines resonant and memorable, he recalls the "terrifying beauty" of standing at night on what seemed then the very edge of the earth. The poet next addresses our current daily terror-war and destruction. In "Invitation to Ground Zero" he presents a moving tribute to a victim of the September 11 disaster, while in "Willow Wood" a soldier, having recently lost both his legs in a roadside blast, utters without a trace of self-pity strong words on future wars. Tragedy marks many of these pages, but Smith does not forget his lifelong commitment to witty and satiric verse. To introduce several hilarious pieces, he reprints the celebrated poem "Dachshunds." Simplicity and musicality have given his wedding songs a wide audience. Several of them are here, including an extraordinary new one, "The Bouquet." Variety has always characterized Smith's work. Words by the Water is particularly varied and unusually youthful and fresh.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801890659
ISBN-10: 0801890659
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 152mm x 7mm)
Pages: 96
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 7-Oct-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author William Jay Smith

Candles to the Sun by William Jay Smith Candles to the Sun, Paperback (September 2004)

This early play about coal miners struggling to improve their lives helped establish a young Tennessee Williams as a powerful new voice in American theater.

World Below the Window by William Jay Smith World Below the Window, Paperback (March 2002)

This selection of William Jay Smith's work of 60 years covers the entire career of the American poet. It moves from dark pre-war lyrics to the powerful long-lined free verse of the 1960s. Previously uncollected poems range in subject from the ironies of age to the forced removal of Indian tribes.

Sun Is Up by William Jay Smith Sun Is Up, Hardback (September 1996)

This lovely collection of poems for children forms a calendar replete with seasonal warmth and cheer. A rich and delicate selection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Sara Teasdale, Aileen Fisher, John Updike, and others is complemented by the simple charm of Jane Chambless Wright's delightful illustrations. Full color.

Life Sentence by William Jay Smith Life Sentence, Paperback (May 1991)

"The selected poems of Nina Cassian represent an exciting collaboration of poet-translators and the poet herself. Comedy and despair come together in this lyrical text; the whole is enhanced by William Jay Smith's useful and insightful introduction." -Maxine Kumin

» View all books by William Jay Smith


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Author Biography - William Jay Smith

William Jay Smith served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now called Poet Laureate) from 1968 to 1970. His memoir, Army Brat, was widely acclaimed. A new memoir, Dancing in the Garden: A Bittersweet Love Affair with France, is forthcoming. It deals with his summer as a student in Tours in 1938, on the eve of World War II.

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Candles to the Sun by William Jay Smith
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