Reply to Wang Wei
The dream of reclusive life, a strict, essential solitude,Is a younger hermit's dream.Tuesday, five days till winter, a cold, steady rain.White hair, white heart. The time's upon us and no exitEast of the lotus leaves. No exit, you said, and a cold, steady rain.Indeed. All those walks by the river, all those goodbyes.Willows shrink back to brown across Locust Avenue,The mountains are frost and blue and fellow travellers.Give you peace, you said, freedom from ten thousand matters.And asked again, does fame come only to the ancients?At the foot of the southern mountains, white clouds pass without end,You wrote one time in a verse. They still do, and still without end.That's it. Just wanted to let you know it hasn't changed—no out, no end,And fame comes only to the ancients, and justly so,Rain turning slowly to snow now then back into rain.Everywhere everywhere, you wrote, something is falling,The evening mist has no resting place.What time we waste, wasting time. Still, I sit still,The mind swept clean in its secret shade,Though no monk from any hill will ever come to call.
from OBLIVION BANJO: THE POETRY OF CHARLES WRIGHT
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Copyright © 2019 by Charles Wright
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Charles Wright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was the 50th U.S. Poet Laureate from 2014 to 2015, and his poetry collections include Country Music, Black Zodiac, Chickamauga, and Caribou.
"Wright’s poetry is driven by a trembling wonder before existence, and by a profound sense of mortality . . . Reading the abundance collected in Oblivion Banjo — 17 volumes over four decades or so, the work of a lifetime — one is struck by the care and the craftsmanship, but even more by the intense gravity of the spiritual striving."
—Troy Jollimore, The New York Times Book Review
"Oblivion Banjo is a major work of American poetry by a poet who draws the reader into the inner workings of his imagination as few others do. Hundreds of years from now, if American poetry is still being read, I believe that Wright’s work will survive as a testament to the power of language to navigate and chart one complex soul."
—Susan L. Moore, Commonweal Magazine
"[An] exquisite assembly of selected poems from Wright's prodigious output . . . One may lose track of self and time within Wright's radiant poems, trusting that this great poet . . . might help us hear our own language, decipher our own feelings, as if for the first time."
—Raúl Niño, Booklist (Starred review)