Biography of Hyam Plutzik
Hyam Plutzik (July 13, 1911- January 8, 1962), a Pulitzer prize finalist, was a poet and Professor of English at the University of Rochester.
Plutzik was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jewish emigrants from Belarus who arrived in the United States in 1905. During his early childhood years, Plutzik's family bought a farm in Southbury, Connecticut, where Plutzik attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. In Plutzik's home, Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew were spoken. Plutzik himself did not learn English until he began grammar school at the age of seven.
At age twelve, Plutzik moved with his family to Bristol, Connecticut, where his father headed a Jewish community school. There, he had greater access to libraries and became an avid reader. Upon completion of high school in 1928, he won a Holland Scholarship from Trinity College. He majored in English and studied closely with Professor Odell Shepard, who later in 1938 received a Pulitzer for his biography, The Life of Bronson Alcott. In his senior year at Trinity, Plutzik was associate editor of the college's literary magazine, The Trinity Tablet, which printed his short story, "The Golus," and a group of poems, titled "Three Paintings."
Hyam Plutzik Poems
Sprig Of Lilac
Their heads grown weary under the weight of Time— These few hours on the hither side of silence— The lilac sprigs bend on the bough to perish.
AFTER LOOKING INTO A BOOK BELONGING TO M...
I am troubled by the blank fields, the speechless graves. Since the names were carved upon wood, there is no word For the thousand years that shaped this scribbling fist And the eyes staring at strange places and times Beyond the veldt dragging to Poland. Lovers of words make simple peace with death, At last demanding, to close the door to the cold, Only Here lies someone. Here lie no one and no one, your fathers and mothers
The wombed thing First like a fish Will become a man And make a wish For a peck of apples, A pint of dream, And a leaping fish In a stream.
A New Explanation of the Quietude and Ta...
Because they belong to the genus thunder Trees grow still when their patriarch Delivers his sign, the livid spark, And comes himself with a rumble and mutter, Reminding them of their dignity. Boom! He empties a bucket of wet Across their shoulders, but they submit Till he huffs away. So they are free With a stirring of limbs to echo him, A confab of whispers, a hushing and mumming, Till time comes round again for the thrumming Harumph of the father to quiet them.
If Causality is Impossible, Genesis is R...
The abrupt appearance of a yellow flower Out of the perfect nothing, is miraculous. The sum of Being, being discontinuous, Must presuppose a God-out-of-the-box Who makes a primal garden of each garden. There is no change, but only re-creation One step ahead. As in the cinema Upon the screen, all motion is illusory. So if your mind were keener and could clinch More than its flitting beachhead in the Permanent, You'd see a twinkling world flashing and dying Projected out of a tireless, winking Eye Opening and closing in immensity— Creating, with its look, beside all else Always Adamic passion and innocence The bloodred apple or the yellow flower.
I Have Read in the Book of the Butcher B...
I have read in the book of the butcher boy, William of Avon, Of the deathless thyme; I have read of the wild thyme growing. Be patient, gypsy, and we shall seek for that place. We shall set our house there on that fragrant hill, Deathless too, over the thyme-sweet stream, With a road as brown and clean as an autumn leaf Passing beside it for friendly feet to tread. No mouse will lurk there, or fourteen-legged bug Trespass its comers as in a lesser house. No pug-nosed dog will snarl from its lawns, but a gentle, Sad-eyed and shaggy-eared being as wise as Buddha Will sit magisterial on the porch to guard us From villain and bore. Never will hoarse old rooster Raise up his odious cry at dawn to wake us: A small red bird on a limb by our window will be The bell of morning for us through the long years. And we shall look down at the brown road to see The butcher boy pass there idling upon his wheel As butcher boys do, whistling a lilt to life; The postman will pass there and other wise men also. Sons will come to us there through the long years. We shall grow old but mist and road and stream, In that coign of things, will give us youth eternal, By the happy thyme of the fragrant butcher boy's singing.
To My Daughter
Seventy-seven betrayers will stand by the road, And those who love you will be few but stronger. Seventy-seven betrayers, skilful and various, But do not fear them: they are unimportant. You must learn soon, soon, that despite Judas The great betrayals are impersonal (Though many would be Judas, having the will And the capacity, but few the courage). You must learn soon, soon, that even love Can be no shield against the abstract demons: Time, cold and fire, and the law of pain, The law of things falling, and the law of forgetting. The messengers, of faces and names known Or of forms familiar, are innocent.
For instance: y- xa + mx2(a2 + 1) = 0 Coil upon coil, the grave serpent holds Its implacable strict pose, under a light Like marble. The artist's damnation, the rat of time, Cannot gnaw this form, nor event touch it with age. Before it was, it existed, creating the mind Which created it, out of itself. It will dissolve Into itself, though in another language. Its changes are not in change, nor its times in time. And the coiled serpent quivering under a light Crueler than marble, unwinds slowly, altering Deliberate the great convolutions, a dancer, A mime on the brilliant stage. The sudden movement, Swifter than creases of lightning, renews a statue: There by its skin a snake rears beaten in copper. It will not acknowledge the incense on your altars, Nor hear at night in your room the weeping...
For T.S.E. Only
You called me a name on such and such a day— Do you remember?—you were speaking of Bleistein our brother, The barbarian with the black cigar, and the pockets Ringing with cash, and the eyes seeking Jerusalem, Knowing they have been tricked. Come, brother Thomas, We three must weep together for our exile. I see the hunted look, the protestation, The desperate seeking, the reticence and the brashness Of the giver of laws to the worshippers of calves. At times you speak as if the words were walls, But your walls fell with mine to the torch of a Titus. Come, let us weep together for our exile. We two, no doubt, could accommodate ourselves: We've both read Dante and we both dislike Chicago, And both, you see, can be brutal—but you must bow down To our brother Bleistein here, with the unaesthetic Cigar and the somber look. Come, do so quickly, For we must weep together for our exile. O you may enwomb yourself in words or the Word (The Word is a good refuge for people too proud To swallow the milk of the mild Jesus' teaching), Or a garden in Hampshire with a magic bird, or an old Quotation from the Reverend Andrewes, yet someone or something (Let us pause to weep together for our exile) Will stick a needle in your balloon, Thomas. Is it the shape that you saw upon the stair? The four knights clanking toward the altar? the hidden Card in the deck? the sinister man from Nippon? The hordes on the eastern horizon? Come, brother Burbank, And let us weep together for our exile. In the time of sweet sighing you wept bitterly, And now in the time of weeping you cannot weep. Will you wait for the peace of the sailor with pearly bones? Where is the refuge you thought you would find on the island Where each man lives in his castle? O brother Thomas, Come let us weep together for our exile. You drew us first by your scorn, first by your wit; Later for your own eloquent suffering. We loved you first for the wicked things you wrote Of those you acknowledged infinitely gentle. Wit is the sin that you must expiate. Bow down to them, and let us weep for our exile. I see your words wrung out in pain, but never The true compassion for creatures with you, that Dante Knew in his nine hells. O eagle! master! The eagle's ways of pride and scorn will not save Though the voice cries loud in humility. Thomas, Thomas, Come, let us pray together for our exile. You, hypocrite lecteur! mon semblable! mon frère!
Now the swift rot of the flesh is over. Now only the slow rot of the bones in the Northern damp. Even the bones of that tiny foot that brought her doom. Imagine a land where there is no rain as we know rain. Not the quick dashing of water to the expectant face, But the weary ooze of spent drops in the earth. Imagine the little skeleton lying there— In the terrible declination of the years— On the solitary bed, in the crumbling shell of a world. Amid the monsters with lipless teeth who lie there in wait— The saurian multitudes who rest in that land— And the men without eyes who forever glare at the sky. And the ominous strangers ever entering. Why are they angry? They keep their arms to themselves. Comfort themselves in the cold. Whisper no word. And the black dog has come, but he does not play. And no one moves but the man who walks in the sky— A strange man who comes to cut the grass. Seventeen years.... And already the fair flesh dispersed, the proud form broken. The glaciers move from the north and the sun is dying. And into the chasm of Time alone and tiny.... The Man of War sits in the gleaming chair. Struts through the halls. The Dispencer of Vengeance laughs, Crying victory! victory! victory! victory! Victory.
The Last Fisherman
He will set his camp beside a cold lake And when the great fish leap to his lure, shout high To three crows battling a northern wind. Now when the barren twilight closes its circle Will fear the yearning ghosts come for his catch And watch intently trees move in the dark. Fear as the last fire cringes and sputters, Heap the branches, strike the reluctant ashes, Lie down restless, rise when the dawn grays. Time runs out as the hook lashes the water Day after day, and as the days wane Wait still for the wonder.
The Airman Who Flew Over Shakespeare's E...
A nation of hayricks spotting the green solace Of grass, And thrones of thatch ruling a yellow kingdom Of barley. In the green lands, the white nation of sheep. And the woodlands, Red, the delicate tribes of roebuck, doe And fawn. A senate of steeples guarding the slaty and gabled Shires, While aloof the elder houses hold a secret Sceptre. To the north, a wall touching two stone-grey reaches Of water; A circle of stones; then to the south a chalk-white Stallion. To the north, the wireless towers upon the cliff. Southward The powerhouse, and monstrous constellations Of cities. To the north, the pilgrims along the holy roads To Walsingham, And southward, the road to Shottery, shining With daisies. Over the castle of Warwick frightened birds Are fleeing, And on the bridge, faces upturned to a roaring Falcon.
On Hearing That My Poems Were Being Stud...
What are they mumbling about me there? "Here,' they say, "he suffered; here was glad." Are words clothes or the putting off of clothes? The scene is as follows: my book is open On thirty desks; the teacher expounds my life. Outside the window the Pacific roars like a lion. Beside which my small words rise and fall. "In this alliteration a tower crashed." Are words clothes or the putting off of clothes? "Here, in the fisherman casting on the water, He saw the end of the dreamer. And in that image, death, naked." Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words. When I opened my hand, they flew away.
Because the Red Osier Dogwood
Because the red osier dogwood Is the winter lightning, The retention of the prime fire In the naked and forlorn season When snow is winner (For he flames quietly above the shivering mouse In the moldy tunnel, The eggs of the grasshopper awaiting metamorphosis Into the lands of hay and the times of the daisy, The snake contorted in the gravel, His brain suspended in thought Over an abyss that summer will fill with murmuring And frogs make laughable: the cricket-haunted time)— I, seeing in the still red branches The stubborn, unflinching fire of that time, Will not believe the horror at the door, the snow-white worm Gnawing at the edges of the mind, The hissing tree when the sleet falls. For because the red osier dogwood Is the winter sentinel, I am certain of the return of the moth (Who was not destroyed when an August flame licked him), And the cabbage butterfly, and all the families Whom the sun fathers, in the cauldron of his mercy.
The Last Fisherman
He will set his camp beside a cold lake
And when the great fish leap to his lure, shout high
To three crows battling a northern wind.
Now when the barren twilight closes its circle
Will fear the yearning ghosts come for his catch
And watch intently trees move in the dark.