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Edward Dorn in the News

The Newly Fallen , by Edward Dorn. New York: Totem Press, 1961.

The publication of Edward Dorn's The Newly Fallen makes at last possible a place to read him simply, and in that way, ought not to be missed. The 'news' is the line , as in the very first poem, like this:

I know that peace is soon coming, and love of common
and of woman and all the natural things I groom, in my
   mind, of
faint rememberable patterns, the great geography of my

If "lunacy," it is gracefully apropos—and moves with the neat light-foot way of quick sense and specific commitment. He takes hold of things, common as the "red Geranium" Indian woman of this first poem, and makes no mistake—nor invites you to any, who are so often smothered with confidences that prove bullshit. Partly the book is a 'making peace,' a necessary and valuable operation, with the old places, as "oh, mother / I remember your year-long stare / across plowed flat prairielands . . ."

Place is even more absolute in "Sousa," and in the variations of "A Country Song"—as the last lines:

Then in front of the fire
We talk of Spring

The Floating Bear , no. 6, 1961.


An obscure slight offering . . .

the beauty of the thought, and line , throwing back upon the melody as it fades and ends here. So "If it should ever come . . ."

And we are all there together
time will wave as willows do
and adios will be truly, yes . . .

Shy in love, he is accurate and final in his condemnations, hardly to be denied:

Will Fidel feed his people before his own stomach
is filled? Can Jack
hold up his grimy hands and shade us
from that vileness falling in particles . . .

The line is, after all, the measure of the man writing, his term, peculiarly, as he writes, weighing, in the silence to follow, the particular word sense, necessary to his own apprehension of the melody, the tune—that he hears , to write. So, of secondhand clothing sold by charity:

       Of wearing secretly a burden,
clothes fitting as casually as though
they were stolen,
from the wealth
of the nation.

It is an anger that must make its terms understood, and so makes them a music no man can deign (wow!) to avoid.


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