“Because there is so much speed…”

Early RainSwallow Press (1960)
Early Rain
Swallow Press (1960)

Bert Meyers (1928 – 1979) remains one of my favorite poets, and among the handful of poets I turn to again and again. ‘Because there is so much speed’, the first poem in his first book, Early Rain, is perhaps the poem I am most grateful for of all poems I know. If you know his work, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you owe it to yourself to look him up. Luckily we now have his collected poems, In a Dybbuk’s Raincoat, available in a handsome hardcover edition from the University of New Mexico Press (2007).

Often referred to as a surrealist, his use of metaphor and simile is masterful. Because a lot of the surreal images that he places in his poems draws upon the natural world, he could be considered to be a naturalist as well. In the way William Blake, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and Mother Goose might be considered as naturalists. Here’s an example from the sequence poem ‘Postcards’:

“White butterflies in a field

are the frayed handkerchiefs of those

who didn’t finish saying good-bye.”

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