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Collected Poems

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Robert Hayden was a fellow of the American Academy of Poets, a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, and a professor of English at the University of Michigan. He received numerous awards for his poetry in his lifetime, among them to Hopwood Awards, the Grand Prize for Poetry at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, and the Russell Loines Award for distinguished p ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 17th 1997 by Liveright (first published 1984)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Several years ago I went to a poetry recitation competition in Lincolnshire that had two unforgettable consciousness-shifting highlights. One was Ursula Ledbetter's magnificent and hilarious rendering of Tennyson's Lincolnshire dialect poem Northern Farmer: Old Style (yes friends, this is technically my native tongue). The second happened when an elderly man in a shabby coat, fat like a great tenor, shuffled onto the stage and said in a rich, deep, sonorous voice "I'd like to recite a p
Discovering Robert Hayden's poetry has been a wonderful pleasure. This collection omits all or most of his first three books of poems (1940, 1948, and 1955), drawing from his middle and later books (1962 through his death in 1980). It's a slim book of roughly 90 poems, but their stylistic range is spectacular. Many of the poems (though not all) address themes of race, oppression, history, and identity. Many from the middle period poems are resolutely literary - not only are some of the words Hay ...more
Craig Werner
This review focuses specifically on Hayden's first collection: A Ballad of Remembrance (which for some weird reason isn't listed on its own on GoodReads).

Ballad is as good a book of American poetry as there is. Period, no hyperbole. When I first read it, I focused on the towering epics of African American experience: "Middle Passage," "Runagate Runagate," and "Frederick Douglass," with its admonition to approach freedom not as a rhetorical emptiness, but as something lived as deeply, and for as
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poetry
These poems are a bit uneven, but the ones that are good are fantastic. "A Plague of Starlings" and "Night-Blooming Cereus" are especially good, and worth checking out even if you're not much of a poetry person. ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm impressed how many different voices I hear in these lines-how much the balance shifts between colloquial and high diction, like when a slave in the middle passage speaks through the rhythms of Ariel's songs from The Tempest. ...more
Mary Soon Lee
I chose this poetry book over the others waiting forlornly on my shelves on the strength of a single poem, "Those Winter Sundays," which I find starkly and deeply moving. I found much else that I liked in Hayden's Collected Poems, but nothing to equal that poem. This may be because the impact of poetry can deepen with time and re-reading. In a year or two, I might grow equally fond of another poem from this volume.

I note that I found Reginald Dwayne Betts's introduction powerful, and Arnold Ramp
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These are beautiful and empathy-rich poems by Hayden, the first African-American Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (the position which would later become the Poet Laureate of the United States). As the introduction by Arnold Rampersad notes, Hayden’s Baha’i faith is on display here, but it’s also striking how deeply he sees and understands the human beings he writes about, even as they display terrible characteristics.  In perhaps no other poem is this as much on display as in “[Am ...more
Richard Subber
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is my first exposure to Robert Hayden (1913-1980), a former Poet Laureate of the United States.
His poems ain’t half bad.
Hayden makes a free gift of his passion. He qualifies as a poet groping for the light in the dark.
For my taste, his poetry is rampant—he lets his energy run loose in too many directions. Some of the subject matter is raw. The narrative sprawls in too many of Hayden’s poems. There’s too much itinerary for my taste. Take a look at “Tour 5.”
Maybe I’ll try reading Robert Hayde
J. Alfred
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you know Hayden at all, you probably know "Those Winter Sundays," and you should, because it's a hauntingly excellent poem. You may also know "Middle Passage," and if you don't, you probably should, for precisely the same reason. And if you read those two and love them the way you ought to, you might end up reading this book. And if you do, you will read many poems that should be much better known.
that's more or less what I'm saying here
Jack Heller
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Much of my personal reading recently has been of poetry I have owned for too long and neglected. I bought Robert Hayden's collected poetry for a grad course in African American poetry, and though a number of his poems are in the modern canon, I had never read this entire collection. Hayden had some great poems you will not find online. Such much of what he said in his lifetime--he passed in 1980--retains its timeliness. Try his "Middle Passage" (with audio) for a sample: https://www.poetryfounda ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, brilliant, thoughtful poetry. Hayden was honest in his quest of reflection, thought and understanding. The most affecting of poetry I have read after Audre Lorde

World I have loved,
so lovingly hated,
is it your evil
that has invaded
my body’s world?

Of the three Haydens that emerge from reading his collected works—the poet of private existence, the cosmic Baháʼí poet, and the history poet—it's the last of these that most contests his lingering reputation as a tweedy moderate encountered in anthologies: fervid, quietly modernist, polyvocal, archive-minded, and unlike any other account of America. ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are so many great poems here, and the poet has a lot of range. From “Electric Storm” to American Journal”, and “Middle Passage” to “Night, Death, Mississippi,” each work is layered and melodic in its use of language.
Cody Stetzel
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved many of these poems, and can see the resonances of Hayden in much of contemporary poetry. A very smooth commitment to the lyric meter.
Edgar Trevizo
Not my style, I think...
Joe Calarco
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I did not know Robert Hayden’s name until I read Between The World and Me five years ago and did not read his work until I re-read Mr. Coates’ book recently. Some absolutely ravishing work.
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2021
Amazingly intelligent and thought-provoking collection of poetry on a wide range of topics and issues. Black history, Religion, Mythology, Family, Philosophy, Snow.. You name it.

Some of my favorites include:

Middle Passage
Those Winter Sundays
Words in the Mourning Time
Monet’s “Waterlilies”
A letter from Phillis Wheatley
Elegies for Paradise Valley
“As My Blood Was Drawn”
Bone-Flower Elegy

Also, Excerpts from, “[American Journal]”

“a divided people seeking reassurance from a past few understand and ma
Peter E.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
ROBERT HAYDEN (1913-1980) was the first African-American to be appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position now titled the U.S. Poet Laureate. He won numerous prizes and awards during the last decade of his life, including the 1975 Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for "distinguished poetic achievement." Hayden stands out among Twentieth Century American, poets not just for his many literary accomplishments, but for the strong vision of faith that illuminates ...more
Patrick Michael
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'Those Winter Sundays'

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, wha
Mia Tryst
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The day I finished reading this book and decided to write up a book review is the day I smashed my index finger in the door - smashed it in a way that the fingernail bed broke through the skin and left a gaping hole. I will probably lose the fingernail, in the meantime, typing is exceedingly slow and full of mistakes. The review will have to wait. But this is an excellent, excellent book.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
While I didn't read every poem in this collection, the ones I did were very well-written. The author has a way with words. Normally poetry is exceptionally boring to read (unless written by the reader), but Hayden made it work. ...more
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Makes me think hearts are there to, and worth, breaking.
Oct 23, 2007 is currently reading it
Recommends it for: all poets
Robert Hayden is one of my touchstones. I yearn to write one line that he would've discarded.

Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Hayden's humanity and fierce intelligence permeates this sampling of his body of work. Without a doubt, my favorite poet. ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Hayden kicks butt with words. Let's just say that. ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favourite single-poet collection. Outstanding!
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An awesome collection of this authors best work (though there is a thing or two missing of his best - still a great collection that shows his true range of interest, expression and skill).
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
brilliant. incredible range of tone and subject matter from fiery invective to really humble and personal notes. Dauntingly intelligent man.
Ellen Gomezq
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just Started reading this book for a poetry class. Excited to be learning more everyday!Great site to come to if your looking for book or just to share your thoughts!
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I couldn't finish it. Can't say it wasn't good poetry, but something about it felt... Too formal, maybe? Just couldn't get into it. ...more
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Robert Hayden was an American poet, essayist, educator. He was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976.

Hayden was elected to the American Academy of Poets in 1975. From 1976 - 1978, Hayden was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (the first African American holder of that post), the position which in 1985 became the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Lib

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“Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?”
“Monet’s “Waterlilies” (for Bill and Sonja) Today as the news from Selma and Saigon poisons the air like fallout, I come again to see the serene great picture that I love. Here space and time exist in light the eye like the eye of faith believes. The seen, the known dissolve in iridescence, become illusive flesh of light that was not, was, forever is. O light beheld as through refracting tears. Here is the aura of that world each of us has lost. Here is the shadow of its joy.” 2 likes
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