Truant Pastures

The Complete Poems of Harry C. Staley

Harry C. Staley
eISBN-13: 9781438438368

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I try to hold my sleep against the dawn

I sleep against the outside light where crows
(nuns and Sergeants priests and colonels)
conspire in the brightening yard
calling me from play calling me from flight
back through the pillow calling me from flight
beyond Saigon,beyond Hanoi, and Seoul
calling me from flight
I fly high beyond the call
cursing God for every shattered wall

I sleep against the clarifying day against a plebiscite
of murdered selves forgotten relatives and mean
authorities bleeding friends parents and parishioners
conspiring with a squad of crows
to call me back again to call me down
to call me back to call and call and call

"There is nothing uncertain about the art of Harry Staley. Technically, his work is masterful. Yet technique, no matter how superb, is not enough. Ultimately, it is vision and commitment to it that separates pretenders from legitimate heirs. If this volume of collected poems is daunting in its iconography, its historicity, and its Joycean wordplay, its rewards for the persistent reader are clear: a deep compassion heightened into grace through the powerful medium of a pesky art called poetry." — From the Introduction, "The Pesky Art of Harry Staley," by George Drew

"The portrait of the speaker in the majority of these poems is one of a man conflicted in his religious faith, in his faith in his fellow human community, in the wars that religion has persuaded his fellow humans to take part in, and which he is not only witness to but a participant in—although in an ironic fashion that plagues him. These poems subtly and quietly promote a way of seeing and participating in the world. Offered in the context of Roman Catholicism and war, Staley demonstrates an understanding that is deeply spiritual, yet does not yield to easy, forgiving answers. His poems do not obfuscate or push the reader away through elliptical flurries of thought or unfamiliar—although the language-play is a real pleasure, not only sending us into flights of linguistic fancy but ruminative space for pondering the conundrums of existence in wartime." — Todd Davis

ISBNs 9781438438344, 1438438362, 9781438438368
Language English
Number of Pages 150