31 Letters and 13 Dreams: Poems by Richard Hugo

By Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo, whom Carolyn Kizer has called" essentially the most passionate, full of life, and sincere poets living," the following bargains a rare number of new poems, every one a "letter" or a "dream." either letters and desires are unique manifestations of alone-ness; Hugo's certain senses of alone-ness, of locations, and of alternative everyone is the forces in the back of his distinctively American and more and more authoritative poetic voice. every one letter is written from a particular position that Hugo has made his personal (a "triggering town," as he has referred to as it somewhere else) to a pal, a fellow poet, an outdated love. We learn over the poet's shoulder because the city triggers the mind's eye, the friendship is re-opened, the poet's selfhood is explored and illuminated. The "dreams" take place without warning (as goals do) one of the letters; their haunting photos provide additional intensity to the poet's exploration. Are we overhearing them? who's the "you" that goals?

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Extra info for 31 Letters and 13 Dreams: Poems

Example text

The disciple retired, Bought new clothes, posted a cab handy and again approached him And asked him to stand up and allow him to replace his old clothes With new ones. To his astonishment the saint stood up, and one by one, Working carefully and quickly, he stripped off his rags and re-dressed him. By now a small crowd had gathered, amazed to see their beloved saint Being undressed and re-dressed by a stranger; more amazed still When he began to follow this stranger to a waiting cab. The disciple prayed that their docile amazement might not turn To belligerent interference at his saint taking away.

Baba contacted him four or five times, fed him and gave him cigarettes. A few weeks later, a disciple was sent to bring Karim Baba to Ranchi Two hundred miles north west where Baba had established an Ashram. At the disciple's suggestion that he come away with him, The saint gave a short laugh and returned back into himself. His soul came forward for the moment of his laugh and returned To its contemplation of God. It came down to the plains in one moment And returned to its circling of Manasarowar.

And he went up into the beautiful bed of Circe . . 34 Or plainly, have returned from the lesser war of prides and loves And class and accomplishment, and have marched out again to the greater war Wherein themselves is the enemy and themselves the victory and reward. Few among men may enter on this holy war where the battle plain Is lit with the light of a million suns, and the missiles are music Which unstrings the limbs and perfumes which furl in forgetfulness The soldier's awareness of time and place and deed: Or More plainly still, have taken to heart Tukaram's winged words And have left open the doors of their house for anyone to loot And have not backslid and put Krishna to the trouble of providing them With miserable gold, but have remained steadfast and repeated God's Name Day and night, and when the full-eared grain was ready for harvesting Objected not to the birds being harvesters — as Shamsuddin objected not But encouraged them: Eat, little ones of God, this is your food; Nor with Odin objected to eye-price for sight-giving Knowledge; not Kullervo-despairing on sword-point in forest, nor Gorgon-affrighted back into stone, nor Lot's wife petrified with doubting.

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