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60Grace in the Word: Samuel Menashe, 1925-2011https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2011/09/grace-in-the-word-samuel-menashe
Thu, 29 Sep 2011 00:05:00 -0400 The poet Samuel Menashe (whose work been printed many times in the pages of
) died in his sleep on August 22nd, at the age of 85. As the obituaries and tributes have noted, he had been the recipient of the first Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation in 2004, with his
New and Selected Poems
then being published by the Library of America. He had received a good deal of acclaim among poets and poetry aficionados overseas before that time, but 2004 for him was making it in his home: the United States. New York City was also his home. Until last year he lived in the same old apartment in a downtown walk-up where he had lived since the 1950s, a space which itself inhabits quite a bit of his poetry. Following a health crisis about 12 months ago he moved to an assisted-living residence uptown (a space he described without bitterness as being, relative to his old digs, a palace!).
His poems have been praised for their powerful resonance and their remarkable concision and precision. Christopher Ricks, reading Menashes work with his characteristic closeness, gave it this accolade: Not just
le mot juste
la lettre juste
. And Dana Gioia said of Menashe that he is essentially a religious poet, though one without an orthodox creed. Nearly every poem he has ever published radiates a heightened religious awareness.
people who liked his poetry, its safe to say. Materially speaking, he could hardly have lived more modestly, but he did not wrap himself in false modesty with regard to his work; neither however did he display excessive pride. What he conveyed in person was a joy and
in his own poems, as if he himself were encountering them each time for the first time, even though he could recite them from memory.
I can recite a few of them from memory myself, and its something I actually do quite often, and figure on continuing to do. For readers of Menashe who are also religious believers, I think quite a number of his poems possess a resonance well beyond the literary or strictly poetic. They often resonate with the heart, passion and mystery of profound prayer. And given both the brevity and reflective depth of his poems, Ive found a number of them especially fitting as prayers before meals”table graces”and it is in this slightly mundane way that I expect to keep Menashes poems close to my lips. I think that this is perhaps not inappropriate for a poet who was so gifted at seeing and lifting up the sacred in the mundane. As an example of a Menashian table grace, take his poem Manna (which appeared in
Johnny Cash: One More Timehttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2010/03/johnny-cash-one-more-time
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:22:00 -0400 As goes Scripture, so goes country music: The great lines are reused forever. Just listen to the final song that Johnny Cash composed, titled I Corinthians 15:55, and the refrain, which goes like this:
]]>Tangled Up In Tinsel: A Preview of Bob Dylan’s “Christmas In The Heart”https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/09/tangled-up-in-tinsel-a-preview-of-bob-dylans-christmas-in-the-heart
Thu, 17 Sep 2009 10:15:37 -0400
]]>Let There Be Musichttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2009/09/let-there-be-music
Tue, 15 Sep 2009 03:18:00 -0400 Recently Dan Cairns in the U.K.
found listening to one of the songs from Paddy McAloons new album (recorded seventeen years ago but only released last week) to be a heartbreaking experience.
]]>Sarah Palin, David Letterman, and Classhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/sarah-palin-david-letterman-and-class
Tue, 16 Jun 2009 11:16:57 -0400
]]>Abuse in Irish Schools: Reaction from the Pope (and Yours Truly)https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/abuse-in-irish-schools-reaction-from-the-pope-and-yours-truly
Tue, 09 Jun 2009 11:12:14 -0400
]]>Private William Long laid to resthttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/private-william-long-laid-to-rest
Mon, 08 Jun 2009 15:45:55 -0400
]]>Re: The Muslim World?https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/re-the-muslim-world
Fri, 05 Jun 2009 11:52:39 -0400