Well, John Hollander couldn’t live forever, could he?
I thought he might. His poetry’s so rowdy and so robust that I figured, if the Grim Reaper showed up at his door, Hollander would tell him to #$%&@ off, and the Reaper would have to listen.
Alas, that didn’t happen. The New York Times reported the passing of a great contemporary American poet this Saturday at the age of 83. I have little to add aside from saying that I worked on some edits to an article with him once — he was the soul of kindness, by the way — and sharing a poem of his that mixes the high and low as he muses on the battle of the sexes. I hope you enjoy it, my friends.
The Lady’s-Maid’s Song
When Adam found his rib was gone
He cursed and sighed and cried and swore
And looked with cold resentment on
The creature God had used it for.
All love’s delights were quickly spent
And soon his sorrows multiplied:
He learned to blame his discontent
On something stolen from his side.
And so in every age we find
Each Jack, destroying every Joan,
Divides and conquers womankind
In vengeance for his missing bone.
By day he spins out quaint conceits
With gossip, flattery, and song,
But then at night, between the sheets,
He wrongs the girl to right the wrong.
Though shoulder, bosom, lip, and knee
Are praised in every kind of art,
Here is love’s true anatomy:
His rib is gone; he’ll have her heart.
So women bear the debt alone
And live eternally distressed,
For though we throw the dog his bone
He wants it back with interest.
- John Hollander, 1929-2013 (theparisreview.org)
- John Hollander Dead: Renowned Poet Dies at 83 (theepochtimes.com)
- Book News: John Hollander, Master Of Poetic Forms, Dies At 83 (npr.org)