Gerald Stern (born February 22, 1925) is an American poet.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. to Harry and Ida Barach Stern (Polish and Ukrainian immigrants), he was educated in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Stern studied at the University of Pittsburgh (B.A., 1947) and Columbia University (M.A., in 1949). After receiving his undergraduate degree in English, Stern also served the United States Army Air Corps.
He did post-graduate study at the University of Paris in 1949-50 and spent his twenties living in and traveling between New York City and Europe. At that time he starts to write and publish poetry.
His work became widely recognized after the 1977 ... more »
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Gerald Stern Poems
In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots I have never seen a post-war Philco with the automatic eye
Of all sixty of us I am the only one who went to the four corners though I don't say it out of pride but more like a type of regret, and I did it because there was no one I truly believed
A bunch of old snakeheads down by the pond carrying on the swan tradition -- hissing inside their white bodies, raising and lowering their heads like ostriches, regretting only the sad ritual
I wanted to know what it was like before we had voices and before we had bare fingers and before we had minds to move us through our actions and tears to help us over our feelings,
What I was doing with my white teeth exposed like that on the side of the road I don't know, and I don't know why I lay beside the sewer
Another Insane Devotion
This was gruesome—fighting over a ham sandwich with one of the tiny cats of Rome, he leaped on my arm and half hung on to the food and half hung on to my shirt and coat. I tore it apart
Day Of Grief
I was forcing a wasp to the top of a window where there was some sky and there were tiger lilies outside just to love him or maybe only simply a kiss for he was hurrying home
Comments about Gerald Stern
In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture
and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots
I have never seen a post-war Philco
with the automatic eye
nor heard Ravel's "Bolero" the way I did
in 1945 in that tiny living room
on Beechwood Boulevard, nor danced as I did
then, my knives all flashing, my hair all streaming,
my mother red with laughter, my father cupping
his left hand under his armpit, doing the dance
of old Ukraine, the sound of his skin half drum,
half fart, the world at last a meadow,
the three of us whirling and...