Tag Archives: Passing Through- The Later Poem by Stanley Kunitz

Passing Through- The Later Poems by Stanley Kunitz

Charles Loudon** – The Fox Chase Review 

           I had the opportunity this past week to revisit Passing Through – The Later Poems by Stanley Kunitz.  He leads us into this collection with Instead of a Forward with a commentary on twentieth century poetry that still applies today:

“It disturbs me that twentieth century American poets seem largely reconciled to being relegated to the classroom—practically the only habitat in which most of us are conditioned to feel secure. It would be healthier if we could locate ourselves in the thick of life, at every intersection where values and meanings cross, caught in the dangerous traffic between self and universe.”

            Kunitz the ultimate academic recognized the need to inject energy into poetry then as today, to bring poetry out of the secure classroom environment to, “the dangerous traffic between self and universe”. 

From River Road *:

That year of the cloud, when my marriage failed,/ I slept in a chair, by the flagstone hearth,/ fighting my sleep,/ and one night saw a Hessian Solider/ stand at attention there in full/ regalia, till his head broke into flames. My only other callers were the FBI/ sent to investigate me as a Russian spy/ by patriotic neighbors on the river road;/ and flying squirrels parachuting from the elms/ who squeaked in rodent heat between the walls/ and upstairs rumbled at their nutty games.  

From The Knot:

I’ve tried to seal it in,/ that cross-grained knot/ on the opposite wall,/ scored in the lintel of my door,/ but it keeps bleeding through./ into the world we share. Mornings when I wake,/ curled in my web,/ I hear it come/ with a rush of resin/ out of the trauma of its lopping off. 

            Kunitz the master symbolist draws the reader into his poetry permitting the reader the opportunity to live and breathe the poems as Kunitz did when crafting them. 

From The Lincoln Relics:

Cold-eyed, in Naples once,/ while the congregation swooned,/ I watched the liquefaction/ of a vial of precious blood,/ and wondered only/ how the trick was done. Saint’s bone are only bones/ to me, but here,/ where the stage is set/ without a trace of gore,/ these relics on display–/ watchfob and ivory pocket knife, / a handkerchief of Irish linen,/ a button severed from his sleeve– 

Through the years, Stanely Kunitz has remained one of my favorite poets. I encourage lovers of poetry and poets to read Kunitz’s work. There is much to be learned, much to be enjoyed. Kunitz passed away at the age of 100 in 2006. His life spanned two centuries, influencing many poets of the last century and lives on to influence poets of the new century. 

Passing Through- The Later Poems by Stanley Kunitz can be found at this link:

Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz

*River Road is located in Bucks County. The area Kunitz writes of is located between Washington Crossing State Park and New Hope Pa.

 **Charles Loudon lives on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, he is not sure if he lives in Fox Chase or Burholme depending on who he speaks with. He is frequent visitor to the Ryerss Library