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Add This - Figurehead

Written by John HollanderAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by John Hollander

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 96 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • On Sale: August 15, 2000
  • Price: $15.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-70433-8 (0-375-70433-7)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book


is by turns witty, touching, profound, mocking, ingenious, and always clever--a joy for the reader.

One of the most gifted of W. H. Auden's choices for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Hollander has pursued the wide range and metrical brilliance of Auden's own poetry, so that this new book exhibits both a large compass of subject matter (from philosophical matters to personal narrative) and, as usual, some astonishing meditations on paintings--here, by Charles Sheeler, Rene Magritte, and Edward Hopper. By turns witty, touching, profound, mocking, ingenious, and always clever, Hollander's poems are a joy for the reader.

In a major review in The New Republic of John Hollander's two earlier books, Tesserae and Selected Poetry (both 1993), Vernon Shetley said, "John Hollander's poetry has shown a visionary power just often enough to secure him a place as one of the major figures of our moment."

Figurehead, a lively, varied, and technically dazzling book, confirms the statement made by Henry Taylor in the Washington Times: "John Hollander revels in technical challenges of unusual severity and complexity, yet most of his poems also have the emotional heft of something worth pausing over and remembering."



Blossoms in the late
October light, of such a
saturated red:

what can flower now?
only the now awakened
dark and dull maroon—

like the unburnished
metal of copper beeches
shadowing itself—

of midsummer and
spring burning the japanese
maple's dying leaves

have fired the bursting
into astonished color
of the very self

of lateness, lastness
which itself can never last
longer than the few

moments—in this case
October days—it takes to make
itself intense in,

to put forth something
of light that had either been
waiting all along

to reveal itself
or more likely, escaping
its dead body of

leaf. It hits the road
with a visual halloo
as of a bright scarf

or a letting of
arterial blood in a
high ceremony—

annual, but so
loud this year—of impatience
and acknowledgement.

Copyright© 1999 by John Hollander