You are here


English Professor Stanley Plumly's "Orphan Hours" reviewed.

By Isabel Nathaniel, The Dallas Morning News


A Stanley Plumly poem is a “place of witness:”

In white Adirondack chairs, on the wave-crest of a dune,
looking out over the gray-green-to-cobalt-colder-blue
of the Atlantic, drinking decadence in large Barolo
portions, taking in, like sea-air, the view and ocean
silence .....
That’s the opening of “The Jay,” from Plumly’s 10th book of poetry, Orphan Hours. Watch. The sun is falling. Soon it will be “a rose / disintegrating, in all the colors of the spectrum / all at once.” A bird is watching with us, a big male blue jay on the snow fence to the right. The second the sun is gone, the jay is gone, flown just over us. In that instant in the air, and in the speaker’s eye, the jay is blue on blue, his white wing-spots and white touch on the tail shining.
He flew on a line drawn in time from now to then.
I can still see him, though finally he was nothing
but a blur inside the death of everything that happens.
Plumly is a master of tone. His “I” is not noisy, not flashy, not there to steal the show. The “I” of his poems is intent on something other than self: bird, sky, tree, leaf, meadow, water. Or who knows what? In this collection there’s an onstage cello being played in solo concert, its bow “sent to draw our blood with a wounding / so severe as to leave no visible scar.” And two old movies: Umberto D and The Best Years of Our Lives. There’s even Glen Gould in concert in Cincinnati in 1960. And more encounters with birds.


Date of Publication: