Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1938 and came to the US with his parents in 1954. Since then he has gained recognition for his poetry by being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant from 1984-89. He has also served as Poet Laureate for the United States from 2006-2007. I picked up Sixty Poems, published by Harcourt Inc. in 2007 at my local library and was not disappointed in the least!
One of the poems I greatly enjoyed is titled:
Against Whatever It Is That’s Encroaching
Click the link below to read the poem first.
I love the very beginning lines “Best of all is to be idle,/and especially on a Thursday,” because no reason is given for Thursday being a good day to be idle and you continue reading to find out. The reason never truly develops but you are told that two women are good to have around, “Let them whisper to each other/And eye you with a smirk./Let them roll up their sleeves and unbutton their shirts a bit/As this fine old twilight deserves,” shows the reason why this particular day is such a good one for the poet. The poet seems to ask what could be better for a man than two women such as these? When a small schoolboy enters the scene I can’t help but wonder if it’s the son of the poet or one of the women especially as he watches “The giddy-headed, red-haired woman/With eyes tightly shut,/As if she were about to cry or sing” at the end of the poem.” What is the purpose of the small schoolboy entering the poem, I wonder? To add a further air of mystery to the merriment? What do you think? Either way I think it’s a wonderful poem about an intimate gathering after a possibly long workday.
Another poem I quite enjoyed is
Please click the link below to read this one, also:
I can imagine Charles Simic pointing himself out to his grandchildren in this movie as an “extra” and his grandchildren unable to find him no matter how many times the scene is re-played. “In the distance our great leader/Crowed like a rooster from a balcony,/Or was it a great actor/Impersonating our great leader?” seems to reference Charles Simic’s memories of war in Yugoslavia blending in with the filming of this “bloody epic.” The last stanza is my favorite. “We ran, and the planes grazed our hair,/And then we stood dazed in the burning city,/But, of course, they didn’t film that.” Those ending lines explain the intensity of the scene and how intense it was but of course the movie crew didn’t film that part. Or, knowing Mr. Simic’s history of living during war time in Yugoslavia, you wonder if he is blending a memory with that scene?
As usual there are quite a few wonderful poems in this collection. I was able to find two of the poems I liked on Poetry Foundation’s site which I have linked below to Mr. Simic’s biography as well should you wish to learn more about him. You can assuredly find his books in stores as well as libraries (where I found this volume, Sixty Poems). Please check him out when you have the chance.
For more information about Charles Simic, click the link above.
Thanks always for reading, please drop in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…