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Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  95 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Consider the mysteries of the heart, that blood-pumping organ and, in Stephen Dobyns' latest collection of poems, the hapless romantic of our interior landscape. "The Himalayas Within Him" finds Heart worrying about the sound of his own heartbeat, wondering why it doesn't "blare like a quartet of trombones" as it reflects his "ardent complexity." In "Goodbye to the Hands T ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books
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Robert Beveridge
Feb 02, 2009 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Stephen Dobyns, Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides (Penguin, 1999)

What a great name for a book. Ain't it? It's what drew me to Dobyns' tenth book of poetry. Once I cracked the cover, his long-limbed, loose-jointed style kept me going:

“Heart considers the nature of fairness—
how some folks get pearls, others pebbles.
A rock falls out of the sky, who it smacks
is anyone's guess—butcher, crook, or priest.
Heart is struck by the unfairness of fairness.
What does it mean to deserve something?”
(“Great J
...more
David
Jul 28, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is a book that's after something. Every poem (except for the long one at the center of the book) has Heart as its main character, a Heart that's always searching for something -- wisdom, a new identity, companionship, reassurance, diversion -- and the search, which is of course also somewhat the search of the author as well, is itself inspiring. Heart learns various things in these plain-speaking poems, though not generally in a lasting way, and the real point, in the end, is the search. Th ...more
Christopher Barnes
Aug 27, 2007 Christopher Barnes rated it it was amazing
I love Stephen Dobyns! This series of poems is from the perspective of a character called "Heart"---sometimes the literal organ ("He's tired of being a heart/and wants to be a lung. A lung never lacks/a sister or brother."), at others a man ("Heart lies on a board with his hands crossed/on his chest. He is neither resting, nor sick./He's working very hard.") The humor is deliciously dark and but it's balanced by Heart's almost sweet insights into the human condition.
Jenny
Aug 27, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I loved this, but some sections more than others. The poems had a depth and thoughtfulness disguised as a littery of words that I found provocative and always a little bit out of reach. It was the suggestion of a collective feeling and humanity and thought that is not often put into words.
I found several of the poems in the Heart I section compelling, but thematically, I found the Immobility section closest to my own heart.
Rich
Apr 05, 2008 Rich rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Dobyns is a contemporary master of free-verse narrative poetry. In this collection, he focuses on the characters of "Heart" and "Death." Sure, that can come off as a little pompous, but like a lot of his other works, he chooses to focus on strong imagery, precise language, and making "Heart" and "Death" as close to real people as he can.
Rachel
Feb 12, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, for-a-class
I liked this, but not as much as I like Dobyn's selected poems. As much as I can appreciate the Heart conceit, it felt long near the end, and a bit repetitive. Still, I love his highly controlled style--so much internal rhyme within each line!--and dug the book considerably.
Caroline
Oct 21, 2013 Caroline added it
Shelves: poetry
Enjoyed these bittersweet, wry reflections on aging
Alane
Oct 18, 2007 Alane rated it it was amazing
Strange and troubling sometimes, but all rings true.
Jessica
Jul 03, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
I liked the expansive scope of this book, and the consistency of voice.
Joshua Seprodi
Jun 29, 2009 Joshua Seprodi rated it it was amazing
Stephen Dobyns once again proves that he is the greatest living modern poet. Period.
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Dobyns was raised in New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He was educated at Shimer College, graduated from Wayne State University, and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1967. He has worked as a reporter for the Detroit News.

He has taught at various academic institutions, including Sarah Lawrence College, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program
...more
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