Winner of the The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Henry Taylor’s poems in The Flying Change embrace a wide range of subjects and tones. Taylor's concern with the rural anecdote, demonstrated in his two earlier books of poetry, The Horse Show at Midnight and An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards, is here broadened to include not only funny stories called “snapshots” but also extended meditations on change and death.
Several of these poems take up the dark themes of the world’s randomness and our helplessness in the face of unforseen disasters. In “Landscape with Tractor,” the mundane task of mowing a field is interrupted by the discovery of a decaying corpse. In other poems Taylor treats similarly macabre situations with an undertone of dark humor, as when he writes of inviting the lightning in while bathing during a thunderstorm.
Throughout, Taylor combines everyday speech with careful control of form. In the title poem, "The Flying Change," he explores the equestrian term literally and metaphorically.
but for a moment the shifting world suspends
its flight and leans toward the sun once more,
as if to interrupt its mindless plunge
through works and days that will not come again.
I hold myself immobile in the bright air,
sustained in time astride the flying change.
From “The Flying Change” published in The Flying Change: Poems by Henry Taylor.
Copyright © 1985 by Henry Taylor. All rights reserved.
The poems in this collection are sometimes disturbing, sometimes gentle and peaceful. They are all the work of a poet who writes carefully and thoughtfully.
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