Thomas Carper sings in Renaissance trios, summers with his wife in the
Loire Valley, is a professor at the University of Southern Maine, and is
otherwise thankfully mysterious except in his vivid, elegant poems, some
of which are included here:
From Fiddle Lane by Thomas Carper Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995 Hide and Seek by Thomas Carper In the large living room the game began. Bubby would close his eyes, and then would call The solemn numbers loudly as she ran Into their father's study, or the hall, Hiding herself, but hoping to be found. He always found her--trembling with delight When he would move the door, or come around Behind the chair. Then she recalled the night When she became an only child, the day Bubby was placed before the fireplace, Before being taken finally away, When she had stood tiptoe to touch his face And turned to Mother, sure she should be told: "Bubby needs a blanket now. He's cold." Perspective by Thomas Carper I stand, and look, and see where I am now. The sloping street is inches deep in snow. Because traffic must have its way, a plow Will surely come along; its blade will throw A sheet of scrapings sideways with a roar, Shaking the ground beneath me. I'm aware Though, now, that someone I have known before-- A neighbor--blocks away appears to stare In my direction. I am in a town Where I may, an observer, be observed, Captured in image, even noted down In words. "He stood at Fiddle Lane and served To demonstrate how distance makes men small. I saw the face. The name I can't recall. From From Nature by Thomas Carper Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 Sisyphus's Pet Rock by Thomas Carper I have my rock, my hill. So, every day My task, though hard, is known. And as I roll My rock, its weight seems always to convey A certain satisfaction to the soul. Near sunset-time, just before I can see The highest point, I purposely let go. My rock responds and, thanks to gravity, Takes its own way back to the plain below. I follow willingly, our duties done, And grateful that another day's in store, And glad to think my rock and I are one In labor and in meaning. Surely, more Is not to be expected; surely we Will have our task throughout eternity. Encountering the Painter by Thomas Carper There is no mystery to the mountain, though Weather transforms each image of a tree, Each outline of a pinnacle, and so The painter must discover what to see. The rocks are rocks, the branches that extend Beyond the cliffs are branches, but the scene Is blurred in mist and fog as colors blend Into a wash of gray and grayish green. So while we watch the artist paint, and share His wish to capture what the mountain is, The shapes and textures alter as the air Deprives the clearest sight of certainties, Though careful brushwork labors to convey The solid world within the shades of gray. From Sparrow the annual journal published by Felix Stefanile Lord Buddha's Leaf by Thomas Carper I didn't choose it. Picked up from the ground Where it had dropped to earth beside a shrine, The bo tree leaf was one my guide had found; With friendly gestures he had made it mine. It is a large one, brown and yellowish green, Spotted by fungus on the underside, While on its leathery surface can be seen The hair-thin veins with which it lived and died. How manifold they are! I turn the stem And watch the smallest, vivid in the sun, Disclose their separateness--though each of them Is finely joined to others to be one. It is a grateful gift from Buddha's tree, A small light, an enlightenment, for me.
Don't miss Thomas Carper's books, Fiddle Lane and After Nature,
both available from Grolier's, Amazon Books, and from Johns Hopkins University
Press, which had the good sense to publish them.