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Delmore Schwartz: wunderkind of American poetry

Who William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Allen Tate all praise

  • News of the Gold World of May
  • News of the Gold World of May in Holland Michigan: 
  • “Wooden shoes will clatter again 
  • on freshly scrubbed streets—”
  • The tulip will arise and reign again from awnings and 
  • windows 
  • of all colors and forms 
  • its vine, verve and valentine curves 
  • upon the city streets, the public grounds 
  • and private lawns 
  • (wherever it is conceivable 
  • that a bulb might take root 
  • and the two lips, softly curved, come up 
  • possessed by the skilled love and will of a ballerina.) 
  • The citizens will dance in folk dances. 
  • They will thump, they will pump, 
  • thudding and shoving 
  • elbow and thigh, 
  • bumping and laughing, like barrels and bells.
  • Vast fields of tulips in full bloom, 
  • the reproduction of a miniature Dutch village, 
  • part of a gigantic flower show.
  • The Spring
  • (After Rilke) 
  • Spring has returned! Everything has returned! 
  • The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes 
  • Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned 
  • So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes! 
  • Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white 
  • Of the old man’s beard, bright like the snow’s: 
  • Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right 
  • For “blue,” for “apple,” for “ripe.” She knows, she knows! 
  • Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play 
  • Hide-and-seek with all the children every day: 
  • You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will! 
  • The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things 
  • You taught her: the word for “hope,” and for “believe,” 
  • Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.
  • Far Rockaway
  • “the cure of souls.” Henry James 
  • The radiant soda of the seashore fashions 
  • Fun, foam and freedom. The sea laves 
  • The Shaven sand. And the light sways forward 
  • On self-destroying waves. 
  • The rigor of the weekday is cast aside with shoes, 
  • With business suits and traffic’s motion; 
  • The lolling man lies with the passionate sun, 
  • Or is drunken in the ocean. 
  • A socialist health take should of the adult, 
  • He is stripped of his class in the bathing-suit, 
  • He returns to the children digging at summer, 
  • A melon-like fruit. 
  • O glittering and rocking and bursting and blue 
  • -Eternities of sea and sky shadow no pleasure: 
  • Time unheard moves and the heart of man is eaten 
  • Consummately at leisure. 
  • The novelist tangential on the boardwalk overhead 
  • Seeks his cure of souls in his own anxious gaze. 
  • “Here,” he says, “With whom?” he asks, “This?” he questions, 
  • “What tedium, what blaze?” 
  • “What satisfaction, fruit? What transit, heaven? 
  • Criminal? justified? arrived at what June?” 
  • That nervous conscience amid the concessions 
  • Is haunting, haunted moon.
Delmore Schwartz

Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966) was an American poet, also well known for his short stories. As something of a wunderkind of American poetry, Schwartz published his first book of poems at the age of 25, receiving praise from the highest echelons of modern Parnassus, including William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Allen Tate. Schwartz even attempted to compose his generation’s version of The Waste Land—a long poem entitled Genesis—although it was not received well by the critics, a fact which Schwartz grieved throughout his career. Nonetheless, in 1959, Schwartz was the youngest poet to win the Bolligen Prize. Like Eliot, Schwartz wrote verse in a philosophical and meditative vein. His influence can be seen in his protégés—such as his student Saul Bellow, in fiction—among his friends and fellow poets, John Berryman and Robert Lowell, and even in pop stars such as Lou Reed (who was also student of Schwartz’s) and Bono of U2, whose song “Acrobat” (Auchtung Baby) is dedicated to Schwartz.

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  • News of the Gold World of May
  • News of the Gold World of May in Holland Michigan: 
  • “Wooden shoes will clatter again 
  • on freshly scrubbed streets—”
  • The tulip will arise and reign again from awnings and 
  • windows 
  • of all colors and forms 
  • its vine, verve and valentine curves 
  • upon the city streets, the public grounds 
  • and private lawns 
  • (wherever it is conceivable 
  • that a bulb might take root 
  • and the two lips, softly curved, come up 
  • possessed by the skilled love and will of a ballerina.) 
  • The citizens will dance in folk dances. 
  • They will thump, they will pump, 
  • thudding and shoving 
  • elbow and thigh, 
  • bumping and laughing, like barrels and bells.
  • Vast fields of tulips in full bloom, 
  • the reproduction of a miniature Dutch village, 
  • part of a gigantic flower show.
  • The Spring
  • (After Rilke) 
  • Spring has returned! Everything has returned! 
  • The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes 
  • Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned 
  • So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes! 
  • Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white 
  • Of the old man’s beard, bright like the snow’s: 
  • Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right 
  • For “blue,” for “apple,” for “ripe.” She knows, she knows! 
  • Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play 
  • Hide-and-seek with all the children every day: 
  • You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will! 
  • The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things 
  • You taught her: the word for “hope,” and for “believe,” 
  • Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.
  • Far Rockaway
  • “the cure of souls.” Henry James 
  • The radiant soda of the seashore fashions 
  • Fun, foam and freedom. The sea laves 
  • The Shaven sand. And the light sways forward 
  • On self-destroying waves. 
  • The rigor of the weekday is cast aside with shoes, 
  • With business suits and traffic’s motion; 
  • The lolling man lies with the passionate sun, 
  • Or is drunken in the ocean. 
  • A socialist health take should of the adult, 
  • He is stripped of his class in the bathing-suit, 
  • He returns to the children digging at summer, 
  • A melon-like fruit. 
  • O glittering and rocking and bursting and blue 
  • -Eternities of sea and sky shadow no pleasure: 
  • Time unheard moves and the heart of man is eaten 
  • Consummately at leisure. 
  • The novelist tangential on the boardwalk overhead 
  • Seeks his cure of souls in his own anxious gaze. 
  • “Here,” he says, “With whom?” he asks, “This?” he questions, 
  • “What tedium, what blaze?” 
  • “What satisfaction, fruit? What transit, heaven? 
  • Criminal? justified? arrived at what June?” 
  • That nervous conscience amid the concessions 
  • Is haunting, haunted moon.
Delmore Schwartz

Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966) was an American poet, also well known for his short stories. As something of a wunderkind of American poetry, Schwartz published his first book of poems at the age of 25, receiving praise from the highest echelons of modern Parnassus, including William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Allen Tate. Schwartz even attempted to compose his generation’s version of The Waste Land—a long poem entitled Genesis—although it was not received well by the critics, a fact which Schwartz grieved throughout his career. Nonetheless, in 1959, Schwartz was the youngest poet to win the Bolligen Prize. Like Eliot, Schwartz wrote verse in a philosophical and meditative vein. His influence can be seen in his protégés—such as his student Saul Bellow, in fiction—among his friends and fellow poets, John Berryman and Robert Lowell, and even in pop stars such as Lou Reed (who was also student of Schwartz’s) and Bono of U2, whose song “Acrobat” (Auchtung Baby) is dedicated to Schwartz.

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