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« A sudden thought overtakes me a morning in November | Main | Kissinger to Hillary: Take Heart, There Might be Hope [by David Lehman] »

November 18, 2016

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One of my favorite poems. So much unsaid...

A great piece of Americana, with a lot of details that will be lost on today's students: bubble-headed pumps, full-service gas stations, inner tubes, lemon phosphates, et al. In one of my anthologies, I finally decided to add a footnote to a poem explaining who Mickey Mantle was. History moves on.

When I was in highschool, this poem was paired with A.E. Housman's "To An Athlete Dying Young." https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46452

I've always loved this poem.

Updike is a seriously undervalued poet. Snotty reviewers perpetuating conventional wisdom have put him down, overlooking or downplaying his rare ability to write lyrically and well about such authentical blue-collar things as athletics and filling stations. An added pleasure, for me, in reading this poem is the suspicion that this represents Updike's road not taken. This is how he sees himself if he hadn't the blessings of the muse and the elegant persistence of the ideal courtier. -- DL

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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