Louis Simpson Poems
- Working Late A light is on in my father's study. "Still...
- Carentan O Carentan Trees in the old days used to stand And ...
- Honeymoon Uncle Bob prayed over the groom: "Let him ...
- Chocolates Once some people were visiting Chekhov. While ...
- from The Laurel Tree In the clear light that confuses ...
- I Dreamed That in a City Dark ... I dreamed that in a ...
- American Poetry Whatever it is, it must have A stomach that ...
Born in Jamaica, West Indies, in 1923, Louis Simpson was the son of a lawyer of Scottish descent and a Russian mother. He immigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen, studied at Columbia University, then served in the Second World War with the 101st Airborne Division on active duty in France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. After the war he continued his studies at Columbia and at the University of Paris.
While living in France he published his first book of poems, The Arrivistes (1949), for which the poet and critic Randall Jarrell wrote of Simpson, “He is a surprisingly live poet: as you read him you forget for a moment that we are the ancient.”
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A light is on in my father's study.
"Still up?" he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.
He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.
Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire--
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I ...