4
"And you bear it"

The final poems of The Branch Will Not Break left us with such a sense of the poet's power and confidence that we are shocked to turn to Shall We Gather at the River ( 1968), 1 Wright's fourth book, and be greeted with suicidal dreams, unmasked agony, and a darkness so black it almost overwhelms the poet. Everyone who reads River notices, as Peter Stitt says, that, at least in the early poems, "the speaker's mood has changed significantly," 2 and, in Mazzaro's words, we hear "a return to the pessimism that dominated Saint Judas." 3 In fact, a death wish hovers over many of the poems:

Well, I still have a train ticket valid.
I can get out.
("The Poor Washed up by the Chicago River")

Morgan the lonely,
Morgan the dead,
Has followed his only
Child into a vast
Desolation.
When I heard he was going
I tried to blossom

-110-

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The Poetry of James Wright
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Had You Been Strong Enough to Dare"" 8
  • 2 - My Name is James A. Wright "" 37
  • 3 - Look: I Am Nothing"" 67
  • 4 - And You Bear It"" 110
  • 5 - That Brutal and Savage Place Whom I Still Love"" 144
  • 6 - I Call It Beauty"" 174
  • 7 - To Die a Good Death Means to Live One's Life"" 209
  • Notes 237
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 267
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