John Hollander is Sterling Professor Emeritus of English at Yale.

IN THE REVIEW

By Nature

As if hopefulness Were a kind of natural Right instead of a Sort of malady Most incident to the mind, We have looked upward And then down again, Looked under, and behind, for Some acknowledgment Of what it is we …

An Old Counting-Game

What’s all this fuss about 1? One? Once you are dead, Eternity’s begun. What do they say about 2? Two? Tomb and its Emptiness are far too few. What’s the real point about 3? Three: The Real, the Unreal, and their dreamer, Me.

By the Sound

Dawn rolled up slowly what the night unwound And gulls shrieked violently just out of sight. In those days I was living by the sound. The silent water heard the light resound From all its wriggling mirrors, as the bright Dawn rolled up slowly …

Footnote to a Desperate Letter

Why rhyme? And why for this most late And serious of texts: have I Not saved such verse to jollify, Upbraid, goad and commemorate? —The tone of what the left hand writes: Not the more deeply-cadenced mode That must abjure the rhymer’s code …

A Corona for Wolfgang

Remembering my dear dead black cat sometimes returns Others to my sight—Christine, her kittens Chatto and Windus (and Fergie), Emmeline and hers, cross Pumpkin, Bertha of the placid gray, and quiet young Eggplant, Flora, Bert, nasty Zoltan, Wolfgang and Ludwig’s sweet Mother Priscilla (out of …

A Walk with You

We ramble along up-hill through the woods, following No path but knowing our direction generally, And letting fall what may we come up against the worn Fact that all this green is second growth—reaches of wall Knee-high keep appearing among low moments of leaf; Clearings, …

An Old Engraving

The one-year-old baby is crawling among skulls,    Eye-sockets handled, rounded cranium Cradled in two fat arms: the hollowness of bone    Makes light of mortality and its weight. An infant hand can move a skull, yet cannot budge    A full head, can sport in the bony …