Until I was prompted to look into his work further by this post on the very excellent blog of my dear friend Pentimento, I was familiar with Robert Hass only as the translator of some of the works of Czeslaw Milosz. Happily, Mr. Hass turns out to be a formidable poet in his own right (or “write” as John Lennon would have it.)
Here, as a tiny indication of what has elicited my admiration, is the first section of the poem “Sunrise” from Hass’s collection Praise:
Ah, love, this is fear. This is fear and syllables
and the beginnings of beauty. We have walked the city,
a flayed animal signifying death, a hybrid god
who sings in the desolation of filth and money
a song the heart is heavy to receive. We mourn
otherwise. Otherwise the ranked monochromes,
the death-teeth of that horizon, survive us
as we survive pleasure. What a small hope.
What a fierce small privacy of consolation.
What a dazzle of petals for the poor meat.
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Oh, to just once write a stanza that strong!