Poems and sketches of E.B. White

by E. B. White

Hardcover, 1981

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Harper & Row, c1981.

Description

All sorts of short pieces, including sketches, parodies, plus poems by this famous American writer.

User reviews

LibraryThing member TimBazzett
Perhaps best known for his children's classic, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, White was also a long time contributor to The New Yorker. This varied 1981 collection of short pieces from his long career was probably one of his last books. White died in 1985. It's a bit uneven of course, but there is plenty to enjoy here, and I've found much to reflect on and chuckle over as I sampled from it over the past several weeks. (Its short pieces make it a perfect book for the bathroom or maybe to tuck in the door pocket of your car.)

White tries to disavow himself as a poet, preferring 'non-poet' -

"The life of a non-poet is an agreeable one: he feels no obligation to mingle with other writers of verse to exchange sensitivities, no compulsion to visit the Y to read from his own works, no need to travel the wine-and-cheese circuit, where the word 'poet' carries the aroma of magic and ladies creep up from behind carrying ballpoint pens and sprigs of asphodel."

I must confess this cracked me up. But despite his protestations about his skill at poetry, here are a couple samples of his poems that brought me up short.

"This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the melancholy time of not knowing.

This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing."
("Youth and Age")

Or this one, from "Incident on a Campus," wherein he revisits his college town and watches the students walking by (something I like to do too) -

"Eagerly,
Strong and resolute and sad,
Firm and gay and brave and fair,
And it was more than I could bear
That none of them was I,
That not a one was I."

That probably could have also been called 'Youth and Age.' It sure gut-punched this old man.

But enough. This is a book packed chock full of vintage E.B. White, one of the last great practitioners of writing in this odd English language. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
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Language

Barcode

1894
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