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A compilation of powerful and moving poems from early in the poet's career. Co-winner of the 1983 National Book Award for Poetry, Country Music is comprised of eighty-eight poems selected from Charles Wright's first four books published between 1970 and 1977. From his first book, The Grave of the Right Hand, to the extraordinary China Trace, this selection of early works re A compilation of powerful and moving poems from early in the poet's career. Co-winner of the 1983 National Book Award for Poetry, Country Music is comprised of eighty-eight poems selected from Charles Wright's first four books published between 1970 and 1977. From his first book, The Grave of the Right Hand, to the extraordinary China Trace, this selection of early works represents "Charles Wright's grand passions: his desire to reclaim and redeem a personal past, to make a reckoning with his present, and to conjure the terms by which we might face the future," writes David St. John in the forward. These poems, powerful and moving in their own right, lend richness and insight to Wright's recently collected later works. "In Country Music we see the same explosive imagery, the same dismantled and concentric (or parallel) narratives, the same resolutely spiritual concerns that have become so familiar to us in Wright's more recent poetry," writes St. John.


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A compilation of powerful and moving poems from early in the poet's career. Co-winner of the 1983 National Book Award for Poetry, Country Music is comprised of eighty-eight poems selected from Charles Wright's first four books published between 1970 and 1977. From his first book, The Grave of the Right Hand, to the extraordinary China Trace, this selection of early works re A compilation of powerful and moving poems from early in the poet's career. Co-winner of the 1983 National Book Award for Poetry, Country Music is comprised of eighty-eight poems selected from Charles Wright's first four books published between 1970 and 1977. From his first book, The Grave of the Right Hand, to the extraordinary China Trace, this selection of early works represents "Charles Wright's grand passions: his desire to reclaim and redeem a personal past, to make a reckoning with his present, and to conjure the terms by which we might face the future," writes David St. John in the forward. These poems, powerful and moving in their own right, lend richness and insight to Wright's recently collected later works. "In Country Music we see the same explosive imagery, the same dismantled and concentric (or parallel) narratives, the same resolutely spiritual concerns that have become so familiar to us in Wright's more recent poetry," writes St. John.

30 review for Country Music: Selected Early Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Edita

    A shift in the wind the darkness Beading about your eyelids The sour pull of the blood Everything works against you The way the evening comes down Its trellises one rose at a time The watery knots of light That lap at your memory The way you thought of your life once An endless falling of seeds Already places exist Which cannot reshelter you Hands you have clasped for the last time Familiar mirrors remain That will not contain your face Words you have uttered That will not remember your tongue The sofas that hel A shift in the wind the darkness Beading about your eyelids The sour pull of the blood Everything works against you The way the evening comes down Its trellises one rose at a time The watery knots of light That lap at your memory The way you thought of your life once An endless falling of seeds Already places exist Which cannot reshelter you Hands you have clasped for the last time Familiar mirrors remain That will not contain your face Words you have uttered That will not remember your tongue The sofas that held your sleep Gradually rise to assume Their untouched shapes and their dreams

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Anthony Sam

    A first-rate collection by Charles Wright. Wright's poetry is spiritual without being self-righteous or self-indulgent. "When he lies down, the waters will lie down with him, And all that walks and all that stands still, and sleep through the thunder." He is true to nature's imagery but also is comfortable signifying through and by that imagery. "Don’t wait for the snowfall from the dogwood tree. Live like a huge rock covered with moss, Rooted half under the earth and anxious for no one." He is no A first-rate collection by Charles Wright. Wright's poetry is spiritual without being self-righteous or self-indulgent. "When he lies down, the waters will lie down with him, And all that walks and all that stands still, and sleep through the thunder." He is true to nature's imagery but also is comfortable signifying through and by that imagery. "Don’t wait for the snowfall from the dogwood tree. Live like a huge rock covered with moss, Rooted half under the earth and anxious for no one." He is not afraid of simplicity or of eloquence: "Home is what you lie in, or hang above, the house Your father made, or keeps on making, The dirt you moisten, the sap you push up and nourish" I enjoyed living some of my days reading this collection.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lamar

    Reading the start of this great poets work is magnificent. Later one I think that he gets tied up in the geography of the text, so in his first few books you really do read and feel the development of a great poet.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Second to T.S. Eliot, my most read and most favorite book of poems.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary McDowell

    Holy crap! China Trace is amazing!!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I don't love every thing in here, but there are some pieces so exquisite and right-on it just makes me fall out of my chair. I would say mostly they're from the section of poems from 'China Trace.' I don't love every thing in here, but there are some pieces so exquisite and right-on it just makes me fall out of my chair. I would say mostly they're from the section of poems from 'China Trace.'

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    I came to Wright late, by way of Caribou, but that spoke deeply enough to me that I decided to follow Wright through his entire career. The starting point is this collection of his first four volumes. It started slow for me, in a lyrical travel mode bearing a clear imprint of Ezra Pound--the first poem in the second volume is "Homage to Ezra Pound". For me a little of that goes a long way. When Wright turns to more biographical excavations in the third book, Bloodlines, a different voice begins I came to Wright late, by way of Caribou, but that spoke deeply enough to me that I decided to follow Wright through his entire career. The starting point is this collection of his first four volumes. It started slow for me, in a lyrical travel mode bearing a clear imprint of Ezra Pound--the first poem in the second volume is "Homage to Ezra Pound". For me a little of that goes a long way. When Wright turns to more biographical excavations in the third book, Bloodlines, a different voice begins to emerge. The sequences "Virgo Descending" and "Rural Route" read obscure at first, but when i came to the "notes" at the end, grounding each the images of each section in specific places, I started to feel it. The four volume, China Trace, feels fully realized; the lyrics are shorter, the emotional center less deeply buried, though sometimes elusive, which is part of the lyrical exploration. A sample from "Equation," which opens with the persona opening the phone book to "look for my adolescence": I touch my palm. I touch it again and again. I leave no fingerprint. I find no white scar. It must have been something else, Something enormous, something too big to see. Recommended poems: "Self-Portrait in 2035," "Edvard Munch," "Equation," "April," and "Signature."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Miller

    The longer I read this collection, which draws from Wright's first four collections, the more I enjoyed and connected with it. This was the first poetry collection I have read and the first time reading Wright in any sustained way. I know longer remember when or where I bought this collection. Each collection shows the language getting sparer. The lines thin and the length of individual poems rarely hit the halfway point on a page. The imagery is still dense with invented compound words and equa The longer I read this collection, which draws from Wright's first four collections, the more I enjoyed and connected with it. This was the first poetry collection I have read and the first time reading Wright in any sustained way. I know longer remember when or where I bought this collection. Each collection shows the language getting sparer. The lines thin and the length of individual poems rarely hit the halfway point on a page. The imagery is still dense with invented compound words and equal references to the foothills of the Smokies in Tennessee and the Alps in Northern Italy. Most of these poems feel serial, but I'm not sure what they add up to. I don't know how often I will return to these, many times I felt I was just letting my eyes wash over the page without really knowing what I was reading, but my interest in Wright is piqued. Even if these poems failed to make strong impressions individually, Wright's style and voice is familiar (the Tennessee stuff) and unfamiliar (everything else) to a degree that I believe seeking out his later output will be rewarding. Recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    What a great gift to poetry lovers! So many of these poems pierced my heart. Not every poem is perfect, but every poem has at least one perfect line in it and a number of the poems are full of perfect lines. I had checked out this volume from the library but I was only one-third through when I knew I had to have my own copy, so I ordered one to keep. I will re-read this volume again and again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    "Don't wait for the snowfall from the dogwood tree. Live like a huge rock covered with moss, Rooted half under the earth and anxious for no one." "Don't wait for the snowfall from the dogwood tree. Live like a huge rock covered with moss, Rooted half under the earth and anxious for no one."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Some lovely moments, as I said before, but as another reviewer said, there wasn't a lot to "hold on to." Lots of pastoral imagery -- some very rich and original -- but in many cases I wasn't sure what I should be taking away from it besides the beautiful or interesting images. Nonetheless, for the most part I enjoyed it. Some lovely moments, as I said before, but as another reviewer said, there wasn't a lot to "hold on to." Lots of pastoral imagery -- some very rich and original -- but in many cases I wasn't sure what I should be taking away from it besides the beautiful or interesting images. Nonetheless, for the most part I enjoyed it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Good. Wright's early work is not really "my thing." However, it is fascinating to read through an author's canon to see the progression in style that occurs. Many beautiful lines but very little to hang on to. Good. Wright's early work is not really "my thing." However, it is fascinating to read through an author's canon to see the progression in style that occurs. Many beautiful lines but very little to hang on to.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  14. 4 out of 5

    Radha

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Lee

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Strong

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ely

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zoba

  21. 5 out of 5

    Walton

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zentejano

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nate Slawson

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Leftwich

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Belden

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

  28. 5 out of 5

    Noteeth

  29. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  30. 4 out of 5

    Inflorescence

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