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The Day's Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech

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The Day's Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech

By: Stephen Dobyns

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Regular price $ 16.00

About This Title

This new collection from best-selling poet and novelist Stephen Dobyns focuses on the hard, ephemeral truth of mortality, including the section “Sixteen Sonnets for Isabel” about the recent death of his wife; the poem "Laugh," a portrait of the late poet Hayden Carruth; and the poignant parable of a horse in a bar. In true Dobyns fashion, these poems grip and guide readers into a state of empathy, ultimately raising the question of how one lives and endures in the world.


"This new book by Stephen Dobyns is one of the rare books of poems that actually deserves the adjective 'unflinching.' The poems focus on the hard truth of what it means to live in time, to feel that what we love is destined to vanish and that the truths we rely on to bear us forward may prove ephemeral. Instead of skirting the facts by acts of self-removal or by focusing on issues more tractable, the poems give us the front-line news from the disaster zone. In their determination not to deceive or be deceived, they counter the temptation to helplessness by a continuous enactment of courage and honesty. And by their refusing to be jaded or self-pitying, by reaching out to create a large cast of characters, presented in a wide variety of genres, they include us in their circle of concern. Dark as they often are, they leave us strengthened and enlarged."

—Carl Dennis

"Stephen Dobyns’ poems have never been of the Tower, nor do they belong in the parlor. Instead, he has struck me, for over forty years, as a poet of great courage and a restless, relentless imagination. He never, never stops trying to do the impossible: to tell the truth. This is a book of mature brilliance."

—Thomas Lux

"The Day’s Last Light returns us to the origins of poetry: story and song. For nearly four decades, Dobyns has written poetry that interrupts the deadening machinery of our invention to reassert the primacy of human relations and the remnants of wisdom we gain that alight our radiant journeys, which makes him one of America’s most relevant and treasured poets. With characteristic wit and literary surliness, this volume continues his big soul reflections. Right now, someone is checking a math equation hoping to unite theories of relativity and black holes, but you are here with this book in your hand ready for the vigilance and proximity of a voice that is ruminative, erudite, and charged to illumine all the edges of our universe."

—Major Jackson

"It is time to rank Stephen Dobyns among our finest living poets, for he has written several of the strongest poetry books published in the last forty years, and The Day’s Last Light is his most humanly ambitious and imaginatively evocative work to date. Specific death is his subject, the death of his great love, his friends, and his own. His vision reminds one of Shakespeare, hedgeless, unremittingly tragic, but tempered by his absurdist, metaphysical wit, brilliant metaphor, and pragmatism. He never panders, never pumps the emotion. Every poem says, here is this man, inside and out, and the best of them, ‘Sixteen Sonnets for Isabel’ and ‘Laugh,’ his superb portrait of a dying Hayden Carruth, are redemptive."

—Rodney Jones

"For more than four decades, I have been reading indelible poems by Stephen Dobyns and learning from them—about the world, our human dilemma, and the capacity of poetry. Sui generis, he has not yet been sufficiently recognized for his crucial contributions to American letters, particularly his early mastery of narrative, metaphor, and humor, in poems that were always unafraid of conventions. What most I treasure in this new collection is how, like Prospero, he puts aside his magical powers in the sonnet sequence for Isabel, giving us an unadorned, idiomatic record of grief that is both heartbroken and heartbreaking."

—Ellen Bryant Voigt

© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2016