Treasure Island

Rita Dove


Quotations

  • ''We tend to be so bombarded with information, and we move so quickly, that there's a tendency to treat everything on the surface level and process things quickly. This is antithetical to the kind of openness and perception you have to have to be receptive to poetry. ... poetry seems to exist in a parallel universe outside daily life in America.''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), U.S. poet. As quoted in the New York Times, sect. 4, p. 7 (June 20, 1993).
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  • ''Billie Holiday's burned voice
    had as many shadows as lights,
    a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
    the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.
    ...
    If you can't be free, be a mystery.''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), African American poet and fiction writer. "Canary," lines 1-4 and last line (1989). Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was a great African American jazz singer with a tragic personal life.
  • ''Everybody who's anybody longs to be a tree—''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), U.S. poet and fiction writer. "Horse and Tree," line 1 (1989).
  • ''Everyone waiting here was once in love.''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), U.S. poet and fiction writer. "Old Folk's Home, Jerusalem," last line (1989).
  • ''They were masculine toys. They were tall wishes. They were the ribs of the modern world.''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), U.S. poet and fiction writer. "Silos," last paragraph of the prose poem (1989).
  • ''On the day that will always belong to you,
    lunar clockwork had faltered
    and I was certain. Walking
    the streets of Manhattan I thought:
    Remember this day. I felt already
    like an urn, filling with wine.''
    Rita Dove (b. 1952), U.S. poet and fiction writer. "Your Death," lines 1-6 (1989).

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Canary

Billie Holiday's burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.

(Now you're cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)

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