Alan Shapiro Tantalus in Love: Poems

ISBN 13: 9780618452422

Tantalus in Love: Poems

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9780618452422: Tantalus in Love: Poems
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Kingsley Tufts Award winner Alan Shapiro is at his most passionate in this new collection full of life, jealousy, lust, and romantic abandon.

Tantalus in Love begins with the disintegration of a marriage, with anger and suspicion. But from sorrow Shapiro moves to celebrate the resilience of love after loss, and the awakening glory of an amorous middle age. In "Invocation" he writes, "Love . . . let there be never again / a moment in which / your sudden shining isn't / sudden." These poems yearn with hesitant love, heated at renewal, fragile but intensified by past experience of love’s evanescence and uncertainty. "Iris / love flower of the middle-aged . . . the stalk / bends under the unexpected weight . . . how did I ever live without you?" Tantalus in Love reinvents myth and symbol in lyrical portraits of astounding resonance, illuminating this defining vulnerability of humanity.

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About the Author:

Alan Shapiro is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine acclaimed books of poetry. He is a former recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award and the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was recently elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INVOCATION Days pass and years vanish, and we sleep- walk blind among miracles. Love, fill our eyes all up with seeing!

Let there be never again a moment in which your sudden shining isn’t sudden as it rends

the dark we walk in. Make us see no matter where we gaze that the bush burns unconsumed.

And we, the spun clay, will rise to a receding holiness and sing, as it recedes, How filled with awe

this place is, and we did not know it.

TANTA L U S I N L OVE 1 The trees let down their branches to his out- stretched hands, lower and still lower, the branches bending like a taut bow from the weight of fruit that flashes everywhere among the leaves, right there beyond his fingers, at his fingers, the dazzling lusciousness brushing his fingertips so faintly that there isn’t any difference now between a promised touch and touch.

Are you? Is there someone?

The camera inside his head doesn’t want to get involved, will not take sides; from high above them, coolly it pans away from him, back curved like a question mark, elbows on the table, hands holding up his chin, to her, the very image of resistance, deflection, steely withdrawal as, her chair pushed back, legs crossed, arms folded on her chest, her face not facing his, she’s looking out now through the window at something that he can’t quite see from where he’s sitting, unreadable, but asking to be read as if the fruit were reaching down for him to feel it, take it, hold it in his trembling hand

How do you explain

though every time his hand strains higher for it

What the hell does this mean

it only springs back higher up the branch

That’s none of your

And don’t you ever again

and all he has is air, the prickling leaves, her face averted,

What do you want from me?

a fragrance grown so thick around him that it’s nearly visible, a sweet vaporous twining up and down his skin, along his nose, across his parched, still opening mouth

Copyright © 2005 by Alan Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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