Dutch Elm

Stanley Plumly

I miss the elms, their "crowns of airy dreams,"as Virgil calls them, their towering cathedral branchingspread into a ceiling above the lonely sidewalks of Ohiowhere the first elm deaths were reported in America.I miss in particular the perspective looking downthe distances of all those Elm-named streets disappearinginto dusk, the last sun turned the stained blue of church windows.I miss standing there, letting the welcome dark make me invisible.I miss the birds starting to sleep, their talking in their songs becomingsilent, then their silence. I even miss not standing there.And I miss a life of nothing but such moments, as if they'd neverhappened and all you had to go on was their memoryand the feeling in the memory forgotten but brought backagain and again because you miss someone you loved forever.

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Stanley Plumly (1939—2019) authored eleven books of poetry, including the National Book Award finalist Old Heart, and four books of nonfiction. His honors include the Paterson Poetry Prize and Truman Capote Award, and he was Maryland’s Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2018.

"For decades now, Stanley Plumly has extended, refined, and amplified the Grand Tradition of the lyric poem in English. He crafts his poems with a jeweler’s precision, but they are also informed with an almost-leonine urgency and passion. This degree of artistry is sadly rare in contemporary poetry, and it allows him to bear, always with nobility, the losses and rueful reckonings that are forced upon us in our twilight years. These poems recall the later Stevens and the later Yeats—and to say this is high praise indeed. Against Sunset is a collection by a contemporary master."
—David Wojahn

"The elm, the brickwork, the late-night bottle of wine with a friend, all that you have ever wished to store against oblivion: may these be blessed with light of the sort that emanates from every page of Stanley Plumly’s newest book. The poems are sonnet-haunted, even those that bear no trace of eight-and-six, with such deep courtesy do they honor the intelligence of form. I go to Stanley Plumly’s poems as they go to the past, to be taught how I ought to live."
—Linda Gregerson

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