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Refusing Heaven [Format Kindle]

Jack Gilbert

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Présentation de l'éditeur

More than a decade after Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, this highly anticipated new collection shows the continued development of a poet who has remained fierce in his avoidance of the beaten path. In Refusing Heaven, Gilbert writes compellingly about the commingled passion, loneliness, and sometimes surprising happiness of a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings: “The days and nights wasted . . . Long hot afternoons / watching ants while the cicadas railed / in the Chinese elm about the brevity of life.” Time slows down in these poems, as Gilbert creates an aura of curiosity and wonder at the fact of existence itself. Despite powerful intermittent griefs–over the women he has parted from or the one lost to cancer (an experience he captures with intimate precision)–Gilbert’s choice in this volume is to “refuse heaven.” He prefers this life, with its struggle and alienation and delight, to any paradise. His work is both a rebellious assertion of the call to clarity and a profound affirmation of the world in all its aspects. It braces the reader in its humanity and heart.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biographie de l'auteur

Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Great Fires: Poems 1982—1992; Monolithos, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Views of Jeopardy, the 1962 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He has also published a limited edition of elegiac poems under the title Kochan. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gilbert lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

From the Hardcover edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 157 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 112 pages
  • Editeur : Knopf; Édition : Reprint (31 mars 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000SEI456
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°632.844 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Commentaires en ligne

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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  17 commentaires
192 internautes sur 201 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Forgotten 10 mai 2005
Par J. Tarwood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Gilbert is not a workshop poet, let alone politically correct in any way. He writes to live and not to get tenure. He's overlooked these days; he's old, out of step, and has never published often. Maybe that's the fate of masters who have written poems that can save your life, like this one:

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

It's the same when love comes to an end,

or the marriage fails and people say

they knew it was a mistake, that everybody

said it would never work. That she was

old enough to know better. But anything

worth doing is worth doing badly.

Like being there by that summer ocean

on the other side of the island while

love was fading out of her, the stars

burning so extravagantly those nights that

anyone could tell you they would never last.

Every morning she was asleep in my bed

like a visitation, the gentleness in her

like antelope standing in the dawn mist.

Each afternoon I watched her coming back

through the hot stony field after swimming,

the sea light behind her and the huge sky

on the other side of that. Listened to her

while we ate lunch. How can they say

the marriage failed? Like the people who

came back from Provence (when it was Provence)

and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,

but just coming to the end of his triumph.

I've read some women critics who are first bothered by his focus on women, as if he used them as stepping stones to God. Most don't. Gilbert's a little like Robert Graves, who found women in all their humanity the heart of a heartless world. He's a poet of sharp-eyed praise. Read him: he may be the last great poet.
57 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Elegant, timeless classic 19 janvier 2006
Par Cat - Publié sur Amazon.com
I am an avid reader of poetry: classical and modern, in English, in translation, in other languages, in collections and magazines, in any form I can find it. Without a doubt, this is one of the finest books of poetry I've ever read, maybe the finest. Each poem is lyrical and elegant - complete in its own right - but the collection also works as a whole. The poems are spare, and for the most part, sad, speaking to love and loss, life, letting go, and holding on. They are classical subjects of poetry, and they manage here, to be both intimate - a seemingly autobiographical look into the author's emotional life - and universal. And somehow, too, they manage to be timeless and vast in their appeal: accessible, I think, to a casual reader of poetry, and yet equally rich for a student of the traditional forms. I devoured this book, reading it in a single sitting lasting late into the night. And then the next day, when I awoke, I read it again. That was a month ago, but the images linger: life altering and life affirming, the essence of great poetry.
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brutality of beauty 7 juillet 2006
Par R. Moore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Jack Gilbert's "The Abnormal Is Not Courage" has been on my wall for some 25 years -- words to live by. It has been joined by "A Brief for the Defense." Gilbert is a poet who is not afraid of ideas, of hard truths, of inherent conflict. His poems aren't about how to live, but why.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful Wisdom 4 janvier 2007
Par C. A. Pedriana - Publié sur Amazon.com
A book review in the LA Times encouraged me to buy this slim but rich book. Poetry, I think, attempts to express the unexpressible and the best poets do that in language accessible to all. Gilbert does that with sublime beauty. There's a great deal of wisdom here as well: "We're all burning in time, but each is consumed at his own speed. Each is the product of his spirt's refraction, of the inflection of that mind. It is the pace of our living that makes the world available." (Burning, p. 19) Even though I never experienced what he has in life, he gave me the insight and inspiration to look at my own with better eyes.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 UNEVEN, BUT WORTH READING 1 avril 2010
Par oriana - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Jack Gilbert is an uneven poet, wonderful at his imagistic best, talky and preachy at his abstract worst. The chief flaw of this 92-page volume is that it contains far too many poems. Without the clutter of the so-so pieces, this could be a lean and elegant book, more in keeping with the poet's ability to "flower by tightening." He deserves better editing; after all, he is an important voice in American poetry, an extremely ambitious poet who tries to marry wisdom with beauty. Who else would dare conclude a poem with this statement -
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as the rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Gilbert's unique strength is use of the imagination, his ability to interweave the mental realm with realistic details. "Bring in the Gods" and "The End of Paradise" are among the Top Five here, as is "What Song Should We Sing." Another interesting poem is "Trouble," with its startling ending that blurs the boundary between reality and imagination. "The Lost Hotels of Paris," "A Thanksgiving Dance," and "Burma" are also among my favorites, along with "Seen from Above" and "The Garden," which begins,

We come from a deep forest of years
into a valley of an unknown country
called loneliness. Without horse or dog,
the heavens bottomless overhead.
We are like Marco Polo who came back
with jewels hidden in the seams of his ragged clothes.

The opening of "Moreover" is simply extraordinary:

We are given the trees so we can know
what God looks like. And rivers
so we might understand Him. We are allowed
women so we can get into bed with the Lord,
however partial and momentary that is.
The passion, and then we are single again
while the dark goes on.

Often, however, I like only parts of certain poems, and I wonder if we could have "fragments of Jack Gilbert" the way we have fragments of Sappho - for some poems, it would be a huge improvement. On page 30, for instance, embedded in an otherwise almost unbearable poem, with the unbearable title "'Tis Here! `Tis Here! `Tis Gone! (The Nature of Presence)," we find this gem:

The silence of the mountain is not our silence.
The sound of the earth will never be Un Bel Di.
We are a contingent occurrence. The white horse
In moonlight is more white than when it stands
in sunlight. And even then it depends on whether
a bell is ringing.

This would likely be its own poem in Gilbert's earlier, tighter Monolithos. Likewise, this passage from "Horses at Midnight without a Moon" (p.63) could be a poem by itself.

We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.


The volume's central message, implied already in the title, is that this life is the real paradise. Even a minor poem can suddenly blossom with this message. After wading through the fog of the abstract beginning of "Prospero Listening to the Night" (fortunately Gilbert drops the Prospero persona in this volume - this is the only exception), we get to this:

What he is listening to is
the muteness of the dogs at each farm
in the valley. Their silence means no
lover is abroad nor any vagrant looking
for where to sleep. But there is a young
man, very still, under the heavy grapes
in another part of Heaven. There are still
women hoping behind the dark windows
of farmhouses.


Some readers might object that what we have here is the limited poetry of an isolated individual, someone who protests too much about the virtues of poverty and solitude. Gilbert is not going to convince anyone that finding yourself old and alone crowns the "good life." Contrary to Dickey's blurb on the back cover, I don't think that Gilbert teaches us how to live and die. To most people, human connection is more important by far than the sound of the oars in the dark.

While Gilbert's narcissism can become tiresome, the genuine beauty of his lyrical lines, when he does achieve that beauty, makes it worth the occasional annoyance with statements like "What interested him / most was who he was about to become" - because before it we could feast on

. . . Mortality like
a cello inside him. Like rain in the dark.

There are enough excellent poems and fine passages here that I'd recommend this book, especially to those readers who can forgive some abstraction and sententiousness. The beauties make it worth it. Just when you give up on a particular poem, you can come across this:

Reality is not what we marry as a feeling. It is what
walks up the dirt path, through the excessive heat
and giant sky, the sea stretching away.
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