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Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)

Posted Nov 15 2012 2:50am

Jack Gilbert was one of my favorite living poets, until yesterday when he died at age 87. If you haven't read his poetry and you're so inclined, I highly recommend him.

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 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
come 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 coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert, from Refusing Heaven

This is a wonderful article that appeared in this past Monday's Los Angeles Times newspaper, and I've quoted quite liberally from his poetry on this blog, here , here , here  -- well, that's a start.
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