John Hollander, the renowned poet and master of wit, died Saturday at age 83. In his honor, here is a selection of his poetry, as originally published in The New Republic.
Picking up what they’d dropped not long before, They gain a new acquaintance with the ground That will return to haunt them all the more. Lost words and deeds, quickly become a bore, Make for how tedious they will have found Picking up what they’d dropped so long before. The more lost buried memories they store Up in a subsubsubterranean mound (Those will return to haunt them all), the more They find themselves returning to the lore Of returning, sadly trying to expound —Picking up what they’d dropped so long before— The meaning of their task, as they explore The lowly territory all around. Th
"Like careworn cats who schlep all their umpteen Kittens around on agitated feet, We go schlepping our poems by the neck, between Our teeth, through every New York City street." --Those were the Yiddish poets: (ubi sunt Leyvick and Halpern, Leyeles, Mani Leib, Glatshteyn and Teller, Yehoash--who by dint Of innocence wove a Hiawatha, babe In the Yiddishwoods, into another tongue?) And so with us, decades later, hopeful boys Moving with grimy manuscripts among Earlier Villagers, through milder noise And scenes more reticent in that earlier time, Our poems typed in telltale pica fonts, too large