Farewell J. D. McClatchy

Farewell J. D. McClatchy

With great sadness, we acknowledge the passing this week of J. D. McClatchy, the author of eight volumes of poetry, from Scenes from Another Life (1981) to Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems (2014). McClatchy—known as “Sandy” to his fellow poets, and to his colleagues in the world of the opera, where he was a highly regarded librettist—was a tireless and brilliant champion of the literary arts. He was the editor or co-editor of dozens of volumes of other writers’ work, including James Merrill, Thornton Wilder, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and long served as editor of The Yale Review. As we send our condolences to Sandy’s husband, Chip Kidd, himself an author and celebrated graphic designer (and our colleague here at Knopf), today’s poem touches on what another poet, Howard Moss, termed “rules of sleep”—the post-midnight customs and early morning road maps known only to the two people in a couple.

Going Back to Bed

Up early, trying to muffle

the sounds of small tasks,

grinding, pouring, riffling

through yesterday’s attacks

or market slump, then changing

my mind—what matter the rush

to the waiting room or the ring

of some later dubious excuse?—

having decided to return to bed

and finding you curled in the sheet,

a dream fluttering your eyelids,

still unfallen, still asleep,

I thought of the old pilgrim

when, among the fixed stars

in paradise, he sees Adam

suddenly, the first man, there

in a flame that hides his body,

and when it moves to speak,

what is inside seems not free,

not happy, but huge and weak,

like an animal in a sack.

Who had captured him?

What did he want to say?

I lay down beside you again,

not knowing if I’d stay,

not knowing where I’d been.

More on this book and author:

• Learn more about Plundered Hearts by J. D. McClatchy.

• Browse other books by J. D. McClatchy.

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J. D. McClatchy
— Read on x.e.knopfdoubleday.com/ats/msg.aspx

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