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Jack Gilbert

(1925 - / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Jack Gilbert
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Jack Gilbert was an American poet.

Biography

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.'s neighborhood of East Liberty, he attended Peabody High School then worked as a door-to-door salesman, an exterminator, and a steelworker. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where he and his classmate Gerald Stern developed a serious interest in poetry and writing.

His work is distinguished by simple lyricism and straightforward clarity of tone. Though his first book of poetry (Views of Jeopardy, 1962) was quickly recognized and Gilbert himself made into something of a media darling, he retreated from his earlier activity in the San Francisco ... more »

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  • Ronald Jorgensen (5/31/2013 3:22:00 PM)

    Entering the website through the search phrase on Google of all poems of Jack Gilbert, and finding that tag on the site, clicking on it is not fruitful. I wanted to see his poem, Guilty, and got nothing in the search for it. Do you not, in fact, have all of his poems as the tag promises? I am disappointed, for Guilty is one of his great creations (in my opinion, of course) , and stands as a creative originality even in the context of his already creative originality generally.

    After writing this comment, I found I was able to locate the poem elsewhere and have copied and pasted it below for your consideration. I'd, of course, be interested in reactions.
    Guilty

    The man certainly looked guilty.
    Ugly, ragged, and not clean. Not to mention
    their finding him there in the woods
    with her body. Neighbors told how he was
    always playing with dead squirrels,
    mangled dogs, even snakes. He said
    those were the only things that would
    allow him to get close. Look at me,
    the old man said with uncomplaining
    simplicity, I'm already one of the dead
    among the dead. It's hard to watch things
    humiliated the way death does it.
    Possums smeared on the road, birds with ants
    eating out their eyes. Even dying rats
    want privacy for their disgrace.
    It's true I washed the dirt from her face
    and the blood off the body. Combed her hair.
    I slept beside her, at her feet for two days,
    the way my dog used to. I got the dress
    on the best I could. She looked so neglected.
    Like garbage thrown in the weeds.
    Like nobody cared because he had done that
    to her. I kept thinking about how long
    she is going to be alone now. I knew
    the police would take pictures and put them
    in the papers naked and open so people
    eating breakfast could look at her. I wanted
    to give her spirit enough time to get ready.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share this,

    Ronald

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