Springing: New and Selected Poems

Springing: New and Selected Poems

by Marie Ponsot

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From the award-winning author of The Bird Catcher, this life-spanning volume offers the delight of both discovery and re-discovery, as Ponsot tends the unruly garden of her mind with her customary care and passion. The book opens with a group of new poems, including “What Would You Like to Be When You Grow Up?”—a question that has kept Ponsot’s work vital for more than five decades. Throughout the selections from her four earlier books and a trove of previously unpublished work covering the years 1946 to 1971, she offers us a “lost haven in a springing world.” Sometimes sharp in her self-perception, but always listing toward pleasure and elegance, unafraid of grief and the passage of time, Ponsot continually refreshes her language and the spirited self from which it emerges.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307547415
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Marie Ponsot’s first book of poems was True Minds (1956); later books are Admit Impediment (1981) and The Green Dark (1988). She is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed teaching at Queens College, Beijing United University, the Poetry Center of the YMHA, New York University, and Columbia University. Among her awards are an NEA Creative Writing grant, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, and the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association. Ponsot’s most recent collection, The Bird Catcher, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1998.

Read an Excerpt


In a skiff on a sunrisen lake we are watchers.

Swimming aimlessly is luxury, just as walking
Loudly up a shallow stream is.

As we lean over the deep well, we whisper.

Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air;
stranger meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.

What wd it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery). (We are
water divided.) It wd be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity, a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.

Old Jokes Appreciate

Up the long stairs I run
stumbling, expectant.
Impatience is hopelessly
desperate. Hope
takes time.

Sort out the private from the personal.
Advance on losses at a decent pace.

"Aside from all that, Mrs. Lincoln,
how did you like the play?"


The skull or shell
or wall of bone shaped
with its egg advantages
does not advertise

the gardens it contains,
the marriages, the furies,
or the city it shelters
(clangs, clouds, silences,
found souls crowding,
big dank cans where things

or the glade it hides
for us to hide in, where
—our lives eased open—
we drowse by the pond and wake
beside ourselves with thirst,
where (dipping the cup we find)
we get of necessity
a drink of some depth
full of taste
and original

The darling face,
the fragrant chevelure,
even the beautiful ears
on the shell do not
boast about the workplace inside.

They prefer to appear to agree
they are just along for the ride.

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