Among the papers of the late John Frederick Nims was a group of poems selected by the poet from his more than sixty-year career. The Powers of Heaven and Earth presents that choice verse— generous portions from the eight superbly varied and beautifully crafted collections Nims published between 1947 and 1990. In addition, this incomparably rich volume includes thirty new poems published during Nims’s last decade.
Rhythmically precise yet delightfully playful, Nims’s work bestows on readers those qualities of mind and heart well known to colleagues, students, and friends ÷ his wit, lightly carried erudition, and generosity of spirit. From first to last, there is no falling off. Nims’s irrepressible joy in his work constantly illuminates the verse collected here, joining together a lifetime of keen observation with speculation on the nature of eternity.
Our gaudy years in Italy! In between
Those years and now, some thirty, I’m back today.
Eye, stride (and finger in guidebook) still as keen —Only, rebuffed by barriers. Ma perché?
Brancacci Chapel? The Borromini dream,
Our shiver of pleasure? San Clemente’s floor?
All? Chiuso per restauro against the door,
Giving us pause. Odds are, I’ll never see
That span again. If on Liguria’s shore
I lie, Qui dorme in pace’s not for me,
Stones with le ossa . . . or tristis spoglie . . . or
Any such dismal lingo of the lost.
Mine, Chiuso per restauro. With fingers crossed.
“Closed for Restoration” published in The Powers of Heaven and Earth: New and Selected Poems by John Frederick Nims. Copyright © 2002 by John Frederick Nims. All rights reserved.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.