Sunday, July 14, 2013

Donald Justice, from his introduction to The Last Nostalgia by Joe Bolton

The early death of a writer tempts us to imagine what unfulfilled promise the future would have seen realized. We perhaps discover signs, real or illusory, of the maturing of some early brilliance. But in this poet's work I would find it hard to make a case for this kind of progress. The charm of the poems--and ultimately their worth--depends on a certain blazing youthful freshness allied with the doomed romantic spirit which haunts and drives them. The work may change over time but it does not change very much. Of his own poems Bolton said, "The scene is twilit, the mood existential, the outlook tragic." And this did not change, except perhaps to darken and grow weary. But there is all along a tangle of wonder and despair, a tangle which strikes me as indeed a mark of youth, but not rare either and certainly very sympathetic. Bolton in the end came to embody and give voice to a certain mixed attitude toward life--his attitude was, amidst all the deep despairs and despondencies, still the most intensely responsive, the most keenly appreciative imaginable.

Joe Bolton, from "The Seasons: A Quartet"

The best days of summer are the days of summer gone:
Something cooking, a wash of light on the water. . . .
The music dies, and what I hold is the world.
One leaf falling would break the spell. It falls.

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