Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems

Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems

by Ursula K. Le Guin

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details


"She never loses touch with her reverence for the immense what is." — Margaret Atwood

Though internationally known and honored for her imaginative fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin started out as a poet, and since 1959 has never ceased to publish poems. Finding My Elegy distills her life's work, offering a selection of the best from her six earlier volumes of poetry and introducing a powerful group of poems, at once earthy and transcendent, written in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

The fruit of over a half century of writing, the seventy selected and seventy-seven new poems consider war and creativity, motherhood and the natural world, and glint with humor and vivid beauty. These moving works of art are a reckoning with a whole life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547858227
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 09/18/2012
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,043,009
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Ursula K. Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929. Among her honors are a National Book Award, five Hugo and five Nebula Awards, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

URSULA K. LE GUIN was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929, and passed away in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She published over sixty books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translation. She was the recipient of a National Book Award, six Hugo and five Nebula awards, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

October 21, 1929

Place of Birth:

Berkeley, California


B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952

Read an Excerpt

From Wild Angels (1960–1975)

I made a poem going
to sleep last night, woke
in sunlight, it was clean forgotten.
If it was any good, gods
of the great darkness
where sleep goes and farther
death goes, you not named,
then as true offering
accept it.

The Maenads
Somewhere I read
that when they finally staggered off the mountain
into some strange town, past drunk,
hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,
blood dried under broken nails
and across young thighs,
but still jeering and joking, still trying
to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling
dead asleep by the market stalls,
sprawled helpless, flat out, then
middle-aged women,
respectable housewives,
would come and stand nightlong in the agora
as ewes and cows in the night fields,
guarding, watching them
as their mothers
watched over them.
And no man
that fierce decorum.

From A Book of Songs

The Old Lady
I have dreed my dree, I have wooed my wyrd,
and now I shall grow a five-foot beard
and braid it into tiny braids
and wander where the webfoot wades
among the water’s shining blades.
I will fear nothing I have feared.
I’m the queen of spades, the jack of trades,
braiding my knives into my beard.
Why should I know what I have known?
Once was enough to make it my own.
The things I got I will forget.
I’ll knot my beard into a net
and cast the net and catch a fish
who will ungrant my every wish
and leave me nothing but a stone
on the riverbed alone,
leave me nothing but a rock
where the feet of herons walk.

Creation of the Horse
The salt green uncle-god, the Earthquaker,
thought of a creature with muscles like sea-swells
to leap across the beaches like a breaker
and beat on the earth like the waves with its feet.
So he struck a startled island with his trident
and then himself stood back in surprise
at the fiery uprearing, the white mane flying,
the foam-spattered flanks and the earth-dark eyes.

The Arts of Old Age
written in the airport
I learn the arts of old age day by day:
the expertise of being lame; the sense
of unimpatient impotence;
the irony of all accomplishments;
the silent, furtive welcome of delay.

The Whirlwind
Will fear of the foreboding dream
avert or invite the prophecy?
How to foretell the paths of dust
caught in this visionary whirl,
this standing wind, this spiral stream?
A breath breathed out will set me free.
I’ll choose to do the thing I must.
The world dreamed me, I dream the world.

January Night Prayer
Bellchimes jangle, freakish wind
whistles icy out of desert lands
over the mountains. Janus, Lord
of winter and beginnings, riven
and shaken, with two faces,
watcher at the gates of winds and cities,
god of the wakeful:
keep me from coldhanded envy
and petty anger. Open
my soul to the vast
dark places. Say to me, say again,
nothing is taken, only given.

Table of Contents

Wild Fortune: Selected Poems, 1960–2005

From Wild Angels (1960–1975) 15
          Offering 15
          A Lament for Rheged 16
          There 19
          Ars Lunga 21
          Song 22
          Tao Song 23
From Hard Words (1975–1980) 24
          Invocation 24
          The Mind Is Still 25
          The Marrow 26
          The Writer to the Dancer 27
From The Dancing at Tillai 28
          Middle 28
          At Three Rivers, April ’80 29
          Slick Rock Creek, September 30
          Winter Downs 31
          Peak 32
          The Child on the Shore 34
          Tui 35
From Wild Oats and Fireweed (1980–1987) 36
          Wild Oats and Fireweed 36
From In the Red Zone: Mount St. Helens, October 1981 39
          To Walk In Here 39
          While the Old Men Make Ready to Kill 41
          For the New House 43
          The Maenads 44
          Inventory 45
          A Meditation on a Marriage 47
From Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences (1987) 49
          The Crown of Laurel 49
From Going Out with Peacocks (1988–1994) 53
          The Pacific Slope 53
          Riding the “Coast Starlight” 54
          Sleeping with Cats 55
          Waking: Two Poems 56
          The Vigil for Ben Linder 57
          The Queen of Spain, Grown Old and Mad, Writes to the Daughter She Imagines She Had by Christopher Columbus 60
          Song for a Daughter 62
          The Hard Dancing 64
From No Boats (chapbook, 1991) 65
          From “McKenzie Voices” 65
          At Cannon Beach 66
From Blue Moon Over Thurman Street (1993) 67
          The Aching Air 67
From Sixty Odd (1994–1999) 70
          Read at the Award Dinner, May 1996 70
          Hexagram 45 71
          When there aren’t any 72
          Rodmell 74
          For Gabriela Mistral 75
          Hexagram 49 77
          Infinitive 78
          “The scarcity of rhinos” on the television 79
          Field Burning Debated, Salmon Fate Discussed 81
          Morning Service 82
          Late Dusk 83
          A Blue Moon: June 30 84
          Repulse Monkey 85
          “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” 86
From Incredible Good Fortune (2000–2006) 87
          Incredible Good Fortune 87
          April in San Jose 88
          Mount Rainier from Amtrak 90
          The Cactus Wren 91
From A Book of Songs 92
          The Old Lady 92
          The Forsaken Shepherdess 93
From Notes from a Cruise 94
          Antigua: The Silence of the Mountain 94
          Pelicans 95
          Talk Shows 96
          Here, There, at the Marsh 97
          American Wars 98
          The Lost Explorer 99
          Ille 100
          Invocation 101
          Dance Song 102
          English 103
          Taking Courage 104
          A Request 105
          For Naomi 106
          Learning Latin in Old Age 107
          Futurology 108

Life Sciences: New Poems, 2006–2011

I. Socioesthetics 111
          Distance 111
          Pretty Things 112
          In England in the Fifties 113
          The City of the Plain 114
          Watching the Fractal Set 115
          The Mistake 116
          The Next War 117
          The Crest 118
          Soldiers 119
          The Curse of the Prophetess 122
          Every Land 124
          The Elders at the Falls 125
          An Old Yurok Basket 127
          Almost and Always 128
          Lieder Singer 129
          Writers 130
          After the Fire 131
          Lorca’s Duende 132
          Meters 133
          Exegi monumentum aere perennius 135
          She Remembers the Famous Poets 136
II. Botany and Zoology 137
          Two Crow Poems 137
          Learning the Name 138
          The Greater Forest 139
          Red Alders in March 140
          Pinus Sabiniana 141
          Creation of the Horse 143
          The Clydesdale Mare 144
          I think of them 145
          Grace 146
          Raksha 147
          At the Clackamas County Fair 150
          Extinction 151
III. Meteorology and Geography 152
          Mendenhall Glacier 152
          A Measure of Desolation 153
          Coast Range Highway, November 154
          Seasonal Quatrains 156
          Morning in Joseph, Oregon 157
          Hour of the Changes 158
          Summer Morning on the Volcano 159
          For My Traveling Companion 160
          Up the Columbia 161
          Navna: The River-running, by Intrumo of Sinshan 162
          At Kishamish 163
IV. Developmental Ontology 168
          At the Center 168
          Early Memory: Jocken 169
          The Merchant of Words 170
          Stammersong 172
          GPS 173
          The House Is Soft 174
          Seven Lines to Elisabeth 175
          Final Destination 176
          Ghazal at the Oasis of Mara 177
          Travel 178
          Pillowtalk 179
          Low Barometer 180
          My Birthday Present 181
          The Arts of Old Age 182
          Sometimes it seems 183
          The Body of the World 184
          When They Came 185
          Hindsight 186
          Body of Water 187
          Aubade 188
          Votum 189
V. Philosophy and Theology 190
          Finding My Elegy 190
          The Whirlwind 193
          Intimations 194
          Some Mornings 195
          In the Borderlands 196
          Jewel and Gravel 197
          Science 199
          Tout rêve . . . 200
          Morning Star 201
          Uncaged 202
          A God I Know 203
          January Night Prayer 204
          The Conference 205

Customer Reviews