John Hollander

Winner of the 2007 Frost Medal

An Old-Fashioned Song

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.

No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.

Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.


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Poem by John Hollander. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
 
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William Louis-Dreyfus on John Hollander

In a few months it will be fifty years since W. H. Auden chose John Hollander's first book as the winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Today, a half century later, the Poetry Society of America awards its Frost Medal for achievement in and contribution to American Poetry to John Hollander who surely does not need that award to further establish his preeminence in the universe of poetry. Since A Crackling of Thorns in 1958 Hollander has written 29 books of poems, 10 books of criticism, over 300 articles and reviews and he has edited and co-edited 27 books on poetry literature and the arts.

This award renews our faith in appropriate outcomes. I cannot think of anything more appropriate to the world of American poetry than John Hollander's place in it. We honor him today for his reverence for words, for his allegiance to them, for his intimacy with the meaning they carry, the music they make and the shape they have.

In 1969 Hollander published Types of Shape, a book of poems related to objects the shape of which was reflected by the written poem on the page. Try doing that sometime on your own; the discipline, the wizardry, the freedom of word and thought it requires is breathtaking.

John Hollander's credo is the poem. Perhaps for him the ultimate purpose of thought and language is the making of the poem. Poetry and its champions are not always noticed and not often rewarded. We salute John Hollander for the giant that he is in the poetry world.

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