Jeffrey Greene's Beautiful Monsters

The cover is a detail from "The Wolf of Gubbio," painting by Luc-Oliver Merson, reprinted with permission.


ABOUT Jeffrey Greene:

Jeffrey Greene is the author of three poetry collections and a chapbook. His memoir, French Spirits, has appeared in eight countries and he has written two personalized nature books. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and Humanities Texas. He has received the Samuel French Morse Prize, the Randall Jarrell Award, and the "Discovery"/ The Nation Award. His poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Ploughshares, and many other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop (M.F.A.) and the University of Houston (Ph.D.), he has taught at the University of New Haven, the Goddard M.F.A. program, and most recently the American University of Paris.

Pecan Grove Press

Beautiful Monsters
by Jeffrey Greene

ISBN: 978-1-931247-77-1 $15

"Just as he's fused both beauty and beast in the rousing title poem, Jeffrey Greene finds a rich vein of integrity in his quest to reconcile our human and animal natures. There's an apt and spirited sense of justice in his lyrical championing of vilified boars, hogs, and wolves. Beautiful Monsters is a trenchant, compassionate, blessedly sane volume in which Greene blends lively animal odes, everyday Americana, pertinent Greek myths, and meditations on mortality and time's sweep, with a seamless, forthright grace." —Cyrus Cassells

"Beautiful Monsters is Jeffrey Greene's newest and best book of poems. His voice is wise and appealing and individual. At ease in personal experience or historical circumstance, he finds his subjects in both the kingdom of animals and the creations of man. Here are wolves, moles, and wild boar, derelict cities and damaged citizens, "small acts of human decency to mythic figures at the end/of their journeys," and a crew of figures that includes Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. There is music here and a rightness of craft. What a fine book! What superb poems!" —Stuart Dischell

Three Whitman Poems


1. The Meeting

They met just once at the Broadway Journal's office,
"The Raven" poet having published Whitman's essay.
Poe charmed him with courtesy and elegance,
which dictated everything about the moment
in which one imagines the engendering of opposites,
an American hybrid, a Hart Crane, but does the gift
ever come from other poets, disgrace, or dark magnetism?
Whitman dismissed Poe's work, "dazzling
but no heat" and in a year Poe was dying,
in poverty, as was his young, consumptive wife.
Whitman recalled him later a victim of history,
dark, quiet, handsome—Southern from top to toe.


2. Comments on "O Magnet-South"

Who else but Whitman could be homesick
for a region where he was not born—
the swamps of Florida, the deep woods
in Tennessee, and the Georgia savannah?
Who else could translocate the love of
birth-things, transparent or growing
or full of tropical odors transported by divinity?
He braved the word dear, meaning
both beloved and costly, a word
as magnetic as north and south,
sympathetic as the poet's two birds,
the thrush's pure notes at the edge of night
and the mockingbird—the American mimic.


3. Whitman at Falmouth

A star of shrapnel tore George's cheek
in the pretty smoke of artillery
which was no longer pretty
after Bull Run, Antietam, and defeat
with Burnside at Fredericksburg,
the ruined American city across
the Rappahannock River. For three days,
Walt searched for his brother
at field hospitals and surgeries,
until he finally took a train to Falmouth,
where he found George in good spirits.
The brothers talked all night in Dixie.
Whitman stayed, buried soldiers
under the white flag in the democratic
earth, or visited at the "Lacy House"
a Confederate captain, 19, prisoner
from Mississippi, one leg, an affection
he called romantic. This is before
Washington, snow in his beard, and the lilacs.


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