On the Canadian side, we're standing far enough away the Falls look like photography, the roar a radio. In the real rain, so vertical it fuses with the air, the boat below us is starting for the caves. Everyone on deck is dressed in black, braced for weather and crossing against the current of the river. They seem lost in the gorge dimensions of the place, then, in fog, in a moment, gone. In the Chekhov story, the lovers live in a cloud, above the sheer witness of a valley. They call it circumstance. They look up at the open wing of the sky, or they look down into the future. Death is a power like any other pull of the earth. The people in the raingear with the cameras want to see it from the inside, from behind, from the dark looking into the light. They want to take its picture, give it size— how much easier to get lost in the gradations of a large and yellow leaf drifting its good-bye down one side of the gorge. There is almost nothing that does not signal loneliness, then loveliness, then something connecting all we will become. All around us the luminous passage of the air, the flat, wet gold of the leaves. I will never love you more than at this moment, here in October, the new rain rising slowly from the river.
From Now That My Father Lies Down Besides Me. Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio in 1939. Plumly graduated from Wilmington College in 1962, and received his MA from Ohio University in 1968, where he also did course work toward a PhD.
Plumly’s books of poetry include Orphan Hours: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); Old Heart (W. W. Norton, 2007), nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize; The Marriage in the Trees (Ecco Press, 1997); Boy on the Step (HarperCollins, 1989); Summer Celestial (HarperCollins, 1983); Out-of-the-Body Travel (Ecco Press, 1977), which won the William Carlos Williams Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Giraffe (Louisiana State University Press, 1973); and In the Outer Dark (Louisiana State University Press, 1970), which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award.
Plumly also published the nonfiction books The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb (W. W. Norton, 2016), winner of the Truman Capote Award; Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W. W. Norton, 2008); and Argument & Song: Sources & Silences in Poetry (Other Press, 2003).
From 1970–75, Plumly edited the Ohio Review, then the Iowa Review from 1976–78. He taught at numerous institutions, including Louisiana State University, Ohio University, Princeton and Columbia Universities, and the Universities of Iowa, Michigan, and Houston, as well as at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 1978 and 1979.
Plumly’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He served as a professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Stanley Plumly died on April 11, 2019.
Date Published: 2000-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/passing-0