Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Delights & Shadows” as Want to Read:
Delights & Shadows
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Delights & Shadows

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,138 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
“Kooser is straightforward, possesses an American essence, is humble, gritty, ironic and has a gift for detail and a deceptive simplicity.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

This signed, limited edition celebrates the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection by former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

Delights and Shadows is one of the best-selling poetry books in America, and Ted Kooser—editor o
...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Copper Canyon Press (first published May 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Delights & Shadows, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Delights & Shadows

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
s.penkevich
Jan 24, 2013 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Lawyer
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have been lonely forever.


This quote, the final few lines from the American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s emotionally charged poem Mother, works equally well as a depiction of how Kooser himself shows the reader ‘life at play’. In this Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poems, Delights & Shadows, we watch life come alive on a grand scale in small observations, and hear the language of the
...more
TK421
Jan 31, 2013 TK421 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-drama
For my second attempt at understanding poetry, I chose to stay home and read an author from my neck of the woods. DELIGHTS AND SHADOWS is a beautiful collection of poems that bring normal, everyday objects to life, embedding within them deeper meanings and subtle stories. Most of the poems feel almost as if my grandfather were still alive, talking to me, sharing whatever wisdom and insight he had about a particular topic, and this brings me great joy and sorrow. The words Ted Kooser—winner of th ...more
Lawyer
Jan 17, 2014 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who do not believe they enjoy poetry and those who know they do without reservation
Delights and Shadows: Ted Kooser's Unerring Observations of Life

“I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.”― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


 photo delights-shadows_zpsc1a41ff7.jpg
Delights & Shadows, Ted Kooser, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, Washington, 2004

The appearance of this review marks something very new for me. That happens to be an acknowledgement that I have and do read poetry, though none of you who believe they know me would have ever thought it and those who do not know
...more
Peycho Kanev
Feb 18, 2016 Peycho Kanev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"Pegboard"

It has been carefully painted
with the outlines of tools
to show us which belongs where,
auger and drawknife,
claw hammer and crosscut saw,
like the outlines of hands on the walls
of ancient caves in France,
painted with soot mixed with spit
ten thousand years ago
in the faltering firelight of time,
hands borrowed to work on the world
and never returned.
Shawn Sorensen
Jun 03, 2012 Shawn Sorensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
At first, there seemed to be something missing from these poems - clear tropes, specific details, a feeling of a greater whole surrounding each of these small pieces. But the quiet genius here came flooding in soon enough, the themes of previous generations dying off and the tide of Father Time coming in for the author, the ambitions of youth giving in to the preciousness of moments and outlooks, the delicate cradling of the place one is in right now.

I lived in Iowa for my middle and high schoo
...more
Dale Harcombe
Dec 03, 2014 Dale Harcombe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. From start to finish I adored this collection of poems. It is easy to understand how this poet won the Pulitzer for poetry. When it comes to favourite poems, I’d be hard pressed to choose because there wasn’t one that didn’t appeal. The imagery and pitch of each poem is perfect.

Here are just a couple of lines from a few poems. From ‘Old Lilacs’ this description of horses.
‘Their long legs are dusty
from standing for months
in winter’s stall, and their eyes
are like a cloudy sky
seen thou
...more
Cheryl
Sep 03, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read his poems, and can't quite figure out how he does it, choosing the exact right words and placing them in the right order, to create such quiet beauty. Not all of his poems move me emotionally, but they all are just quietly and calmly gorgeous and restful and peaceful, zen-like and meditative.

Telescope
This is the pipe that pierces the dam
that holds back the universe,

that takes off some of the pressure,
keeping the weight of the unknown

from breaking through
and washing us all down the
...more
Melanie
Jan 14, 2014 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If the poems in this collection are people, they would be much like Ted Kooser's 'Mourners' here to say goodbye 'but now they keep saying hello and hello, / peering into each other's faces, / slow to let go of each other's hands.'

These are twilight poems, written from 'his heart gone soft and blue with stories', nostalgic, mournful, celebratory and urgent. In fact it is the sense of emergency instilled in these poems that had me so transfixed.

I am in awe of the perfect economy of words, the el
...more
Ken
Like rime, Kooser's a little like Frost and a little unlike him. He is a poet of the prosaic, lifting the ordinary to extraordinary heights before our very eyes. A bucket of dishwater, his grandmother's radio, a spider on a gravestone, a jar of buttons. Delights in the minutiae of the Midwest, yes, but they resonate and know no borders. Even two-liners are a wonder:

Starlight

All night, this soft rain from the distant past.
No wonder I sometimes waken as a child.

A master of metaphor, he sees one or
...more
Dianne
Mar 11, 2016 Dianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So delighted to have read Kooser's 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning book of poetry, Delights & Shadows. Kooser has said that 'Poetry is communication...and Poetry's purpose is to reach other people and to touch their hearts. If a poem doesn't make sense to anybody but its author, nobody but its author will care a whit about it.'

Kooser's poems are inspired by the daily events and things of life that many of us overlook as we go through our day. His poems use imagery and metaphor to illuminate the
...more
Jeff Crompton
May 28, 2011 Jeff Crompton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kooser's poetry reminds me of Billy Collins' in two respects. First of all, it isn't "difficult"; it should be pretty easy to grasp, even for those who don't read much poetry. And like Collins, Kooser is a master of finding beauty and insight in the ordinary. His outlook is more rural that Collins' (Kooser is from Nebraska), and his poetry is more somber; an awareness of our mortality is never far below the surface.

But enough comparisons; this is beautiful poetry. I'll quote a couple of the poem
...more
Emily
Dec 09, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am now officially addicted to his stuff. Certain of his poems feel like strange artifacts come upon after long digging. I want to hold them up to the light and read out their inscriptions, then turn to my dusty neighbor to give the English translation. Here's one such one:


After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scatterin
...more
Joe Haack
Aug 02, 2011 Joe Haack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is not one wasted word within the covers of Kooser's Pulitzer Awarded volume, his epigraph included: "The Sailor cannot see the North / but knows the Needle can." This quote from a letter of E. Dickinson speaks of the power and necessity of metaphor. It is fitting because Kooser's poetry is a comprehensible art, meant to help his readers experience the world - however mundane - differently. You will never look at lilacs, or your hands as they knot your neck-tie, the same way.

You will revi
...more
Kasandra
Jan 22, 2011 Kasandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kooser's powers of observation are amazing, as is his ability to concisely convey wonder, emotion, amusement, and affection for the small details of the world around him -- that happen to touch on universal shared experience and feeling. These are luminous poems, deceptively simple but intensely well-crafted, without a wrong note or an extra word. No wonder he won the Pulitzer Prize for this. A must-read, and thoroughly accessible while still being deep and thought-provoking.
KFed
Sep 04, 2009 KFed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Have you ever seen the film Dark City? I'm going to make a very odd analogy.

In that film, a group of awesomely misguided aliens nicknamed The Strangers steal a city's worth of human subjects and move them into their own, separate sort of universe in order to study them. Each night, The Strangers wipe the memories of these humans and exchange memories and pasts between people. A born store clerk wakes up one day and assumes the position of a blue blood millionaire. Buildings rise and fall every n
...more
Abby
Nov 01, 2014 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pleasant, natural, uncomplicated poems. I have a feeling Ted Kooser is a thoroughly charming and kind man, the sort of person you’d like to have over for dinner and stay talking with you long past an acceptable hour.

Favorite in this collection:

“Tectonics”
In only a few months
there will begin to be fissures
in what we remember,
and within a year or two,
the facts break apart
one from another
and slowly begin to shift
and turn, grinding,
pushing up over each other
until their shapes
have been changed
and the
...more
Katherine
May 19, 2009 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Ted Kooser is highly recommended among my friends and this book I borrowed to see what he was all about. Besides Neruda and whatever was assigned in High School or College, I don't consider myself well-read in poetry at all. This was a nice read. Some of the metaphors were amazing to me. Three poems stuck out as masterpieces, but the rest I didn't find as stimulating. I would have been much more impressed if they all read with the same intensity. In all, I really enjoyed this book and it gave me ...more
Kendall
Mar 03, 2016 Kendall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kooser's work seems very simplistic, but that is also part of his appeal. These poems are lovely and descript. He paints a vivid landscape with each window he opens.
Kevin Brown
May 21, 2011 Kevin Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kooser's poetry is so quiet that it sneaks up on you with how good it is. There are no outlandish metaphors here, just ones that fit. His endings don't drive his point home with that free verse imitation of the Shakespearean couplet, just a scene or comment that connects everything. What really impresses me, though, is his use of titles. I would sometimes forget the title of the poem as I was reading it, then go back and see it, only to have the entire poem make sense at that point. That's a tri ...more
Corey
Feb 25, 2015 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He's a beautiful writer, of the earth and metaphysical, too. "All night, this soft rain from the distant past./No wonder I sometimes waken as a child."
tex norman
Dec 19, 2010 tex norman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
This was just fantastic. I read a lot of poetry and I rate my favorites. Kooser is 1A and Billy Collins is 1B. Kooser poems are like word snapshots that capture a moment of life and remind you of the intensity, depth, and value of beling alive. This is a must read book for poets and even people who think they hate poetry will like this book.
Jessica
Aug 21, 2007 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Modern Poetry

Modern poetry
is
simply regular sentences with
creative
line
breaks.

I find it
dull
and pretentious
and utterly

forgettable.
Derek Emerson
Delights and Shadows is Ted Kooser’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poetry published in 2004. It is an outstanding work of poetry in its immediate accessibility, and the beckoning for a return created by the poems. Kooser trusts the power of language, and his writing does not call attention to himself as much as the subject. Yet you leave the book feeling like you’ve met a friend who just shared some great stories with you.

The book is broken into four sections, but I did not find them high
...more
James Murphy
Mar 25, 2011 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When spring came this year it brought nostalgia, first in a book of essays about growing up in the South and here by a poet who finds illumination in the commonplace. Ted Kooser lives in and writes abut Nebraska. The rural environments and small town atmospheres he writes about raise great choirs of memories in me because he writes about the kind of world I knew as a child and young man. And I know that's one of the reasons I like his poetry so much. But he also favors a forceful metaphor and si ...more
Sherry
Apr 13, 2011 Sherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given it is poetry month and Mary Jo's enthusiastic bidding, I'm trying to read some poetry ever day and Jamie loaned me this book and I love so many of the poems here. He really reminds me of my father and mother. I think I also identify because he, too, is older. He takes such simple subjects and stops you with his take. He makes the ordinary quite extraordinary and yet so simple and beautiful. For example:

NEW CAP

Brown corduroy,
the earflaps tied on top,
the same size cap he bought
when he was yo
...more
Rick
Jan 10, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This volume of Kooser’s poems won the Pulitzer Prize a couple of years ago and it is an enjoyable, accessible work of reflection on age (and therefore time and meaning). I read the first four or five poems to my girlfriend as we sat in a Rockport seafood luncheon place, fried shrimp baskets and canned beverages on red and white plastic table cloths. And the poems worked. “…At what must seem to be / a great distance, a nurse holds the door, / smiling and calling encouragement. / How patient she i ...more
Tim
Aug 30, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Direct and tactile poems that describe the commonplace and the rural with a tenderness that creates a universality, a sentimentality, a sharing of experience that is simple and beautiful, achingly beautiful at times.

A Spiral Notebook

The bright wire rolls like a porpoise
in and out of the calm blue sea
of the cover, or perhaps like a sleeper
twisting in and out of his dreams,
for it could hold a record of dreams
if you wanted to buy it for that
though it seems to be meant for
more serious work, with i
...more
Amber
Mar 19, 2014 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, poignant verses that make me feel like I'm being invited in to some of the most intimate moments of American history. These poems are as calming as they are delightful, with rich, personal imagery that is as welcoming as homemade pie. A good addition to a modern poetry collection.
Matt
Jan 31, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a sort of a lazy love on my part, that Kooser writes poems that aside from some surface sparkle don't really challenge me. And I think his persona is even a little eeky-squeaky, too mannered and interested in this fuddyduddy thing.

In spite of all that, though, I really like these poems. Of course, the middle two sections (?), about the death of his parents, is incredibly moving, but he also does some really good work with the more occasional poems of the first section.

The poems
...more
Caitlin
Oct 14, 2011 Caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved many of the poems in this book (Mother, A Spiral Notebook, Starlight). This book of poetry is also why I love to read books of poetry as apposed to selected works. The poems are all good, but the overall theme adds a layer of understanding to each. The book starts and ends with a poem where darkness is key. See, the way I see it this book is really about the life long. It starts in darkness and then you are "suddenly able to see". You fill 78 pages/years with wonderful poems (Deli ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Practical Gods
  • Late Wife
  • Different Hours
  • Otherwise: New and Selected Poems
  • Braided Creek
  • Native Guard
  • The Shadow of Sirius
  • Time and Materials
  • Fuel
  • Repair
  • The Best of It: New and Selected Poems
  • Walking to Martha's Vineyard
  • Picnic, Lightning
  • American Primitive
  • Without: Poems
  • Moy Sand and Gravel
  • Donkey Gospel
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt
139984
Ted Kooser lives in rural Nebraska with his wife, Kathleen, and three dogs. He is one of America's most noted poets, having served two terms as U. S. Poet Laureate and, during the second term, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, DELIGHTS & SHADOWS. He is a retired life insurance executive who now teaches part-time at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The school board ...more
More about Ted Kooser...

Share This Book



“MOTHER – By Ted Kooser

Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass and the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.

You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.

The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.

They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts,
burning in circles like birthday candles,
for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.

There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.

You asked me if I would be sad when it happened
and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.

Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.”
17 likes
“Mother (fragment)

...You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.”
6 likes
More quotes…