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Still Life In Milford: Poems - 1st Edition/1st Printing: Lynch, Thomas

Still Life In Milford: Poems - 1st Edition/1st Printing

Lynch, Thomas

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ISBN 10: 0393046591 / ISBN 13: 9780393046595
Published by W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1998
Used Condition: Fine+ Hardcover
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A handsome first edition/first printing in unread Very Fine condition in Very Fine dust-jacket. Signed and inscribed by author directly on the title pageThomas Lynch; First Edition; First Printing; Signed by Author. Bookseller Inventory # 17346

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Still Life In Milford: Poems - 1st Edition/...

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, New York

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine+

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine+

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


A collection of poems by the highly acclaimed author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. In his first American collection since 1987, Thomas Lynch tenders poems on life and death, history and memory, the local and the larger geographies. From Latin wellsprings in Gregorian hymns, through inherited idioms of West Clare and meditations in a London park, to the plainchants of middle America, Lynch follows the forces of language. The ordinary artifacts of daily life and common speech are assembled into poems of uncommon elegance and grace. Colloquy and narrative, soliloquy and tribute: Still Life in Milford engages the full register of the poet's voices-as elegist, witness, obituarist, straight-man, and passerby-to achieve a disturbing and instructive harmony.


Still Life in Milford is--perhaps unsurprisingly--haunted by death. Its author, after all, is that most celebrated of poet-undertakers, Thomas Lynch of Milford, Michigan. Evidently poetry and undertaking are felicitous occupations for one obsessed with the larger questions, and Lynch finds abundant material in the vacant eyes of corpses, in the pages of small-town obituaries, even in the autopsy notes from Dr. Kevorkian's patients. Yet throughout, Lynch maintains a sturdy, undertaker's stoicism in the face of the cruelest ironies death has to offer. After all, he has "certain duties here. Notably, / when folks get horizontal, breathless, still: / life in Milford ends. They call. I send a car."

In some ways, Lynch holds a pleasingly old-fashioned view of "the human hunger for creation": "the act of ordering is all the same--" he writes in the collection's title poem, "the ordinary becomes a celebration." And he does nothing if not celebrate the ordinary: small-town life, marriage, his Irish relations' hardscrabble lives. Yet beyond these poems' orderly surfaces lies chaos. Writing about a fatal car accident in "That Scream if You Ever Hear It," he addresses an (imaginary? internal?) critic, the one who tells him, "Rub their noses in it."

I know you don't need symmetry or order
so that the biker died in pieces--
the arm with the tattoo reading SHIT
HAPPENS thrown a hundred yards from the one
with NO TOMORROW on it--doesn't impress you.
What will impress, he concludes, is that the bereaved mother's scream, when it finally emerges, "won't rhyme with anything." Faced with the unthinkable, Lynch can only shrug, bury the body, do his job as both poet and undertaker: "And if rhyming's out of fashion, I fashion rhymes / that keep their distance, four lines apart, like so." --Mary Park

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