Accepting an award for poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Daniel Hoffman wrote, "Amid private sufferings and outrage at the brutalities of public life, it is gaiety that sustains us, and love, and the imagination's power to create from both deprivation and delight." This collection embodies those emotions and that imaginative power. Hoffman's verse has always exulted in the resources of language, as sensuous in sound as in response to the natural world. Beyond Silence, to be published on Hoffman's eightieth birthday, presents his shorter poems culled from eight previous collections, plus several new poems. Here, rather than in chronological order, they appear thematically and invite the reader to partake of the pleasures that characterize this distinguished poet's verse: "clarity, grace where desired, accuracy of visual detail and dialogue, and a formal mastery so deft that playfulness comes easily" (Fred Chappell).
Arriving at last. It has stumbled across the harsh
Stones, the black marshes. True to itself, by what craft
And strength it has, it has come
As a sole survivor returns. From the steep pass.
Carved on memory's staff
The legend is nearly decipherable.
It has lived up to its vows
If it endures
The journey through the dark places
To bear witness,
Casting is message
In a sort of singing.
-- "The Poem"
Former poet laureate, Daniel Hoffman (1923—2013) published fourteen books of poetry, including The Whole Nine Yards, Beyond Silence, and Brotherly Love, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His honors include the Arthur Anse prize for “a distinctive poet” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and, from the Sewanee Review, the Aiken-Taylor Award for Contemporary American Poetry. He was the author of many critical studies, including Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe, also a National Book Award finalist. He taught at Swarthmore College and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Felix Schelling Professor of English Emeritus.
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