Howard Nemerov was an American poet. He was twice appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1963 to 1964, and again from 1988 to 1990. He received the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Bollingen Prize for The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. He was brother to photographer Diane Nemerov Arbus and father to art historian Alexander Nemerov, Professor of the History of Art and American Studies at Yale University.
Born on leap day in New York City, his parents were David Nemerov and Gertrude. His younger sister was the photographer Diane Arbus. The elder Nemerov's talents and interests extended to art ... more »
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Howard Nemerov Poems
September, The First Day Of School
I My child and I hold hands on the way to school, And when I leave him at the first-grade door
Because You Asked About The Line Between...
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle That while you watched turned into pieces of snow Riding a gradient invisible From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
Innocence? In a sense. In no sense!
Learning the Trees
Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn The language of the trees. That's done indoors, Out of a book, which now you think of it Is one of the transformations of a tree.
Some nights it's bound to be your best way out, When nightmare is the short end of the stick, When sleep is a part of town where it's not safe To walk at night, when waking is the only way
A Spell before Winter
After the red leaf and the gold have gone, Brought down by the wind, then by hammering rain Bruised and discolored, when October's flame Goes blue to guttering in the cusp, this land
People are putting up storm windows now, Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain Drove them indoors. So, coming home at noon, I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
Learning by Doing
They're taking down a tree at the front door, The power saw is snarling at some nerves, Whining at others. Now and then it grunts, And sawdust falls like snow or a drift of seeds.
The Goose Fish
On the long shore, lit by the moon To show them properly alone, Two lovers suddenly embraced So that their shadows were as one.
The Blue Swallows
Across the millstream below the bridge Seven blue swallows divide the air In shapes invisible and evanescent, Kaleidoscopic beyond the mind’s
Walking the Dog
Two universes mosey down the street Connected by love and a leash and nothing else. Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Amateurs of Heaven
Two lovers to a midnight meadow came High in the hills, to lie there hand and hand Like effigies and look up at the stars, The never-setting ones set in the North
This admirable gadget, when it is Wound on a string and spun with steady force, Maintains its balance on most any smooth Surface, pleasantly humming as it goes.
You know the old story Ann Landers tells About the houseife in her basement doing the wash? She's wearing her nightie, and she thinks, "Well, hell, I might's well put this in as well," and then
Quotationsmore quotations »
''I've never read a political poem that's accomplished anything. Poetry makes things happen, but rarely what the poet wants.''Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. International Herald Tribune (Paris, October 14, 1988).
Both poet and painter want to reach the silence behind the language, the silence within the language. Both painter and poet want their work to shine not only in daylight but (by whatever illusionist m...Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. "On Poetry and Painting, with a Thought of Music," Figures of Thought: Speculations on the Me...
''Religion and science both profess peace (and the sincerity of the professors is not being doubted), but each always turns out to have a dominant part in any war that is going or contemplated.''Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. "On the Resemblances Between Science and Religion," Figures of Thought: Speculations on the M...
''Obvious enough that generalities work to protect the mind from the great outdoors; is it possible that this was in fact their first purpose?''Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. "Reflexions of the Novelist Felix Ledger," sct. C, Journal of the Fictive Life (1965).
The only way out is the way through, just as you cannot escape from death except by dying. Being unable to write, you must examine in writing this being unable, which becomes for the presenthenc...Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. "Reflexions of the Novelist Felix Ledger," sct. B, Journal of the Fictive Life (1965).
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
September, The First Day Of School
My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.
Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible
Bow down before it, as in Joseph's dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the...