By Hayden Carruth 1921–2008 Hayden Carruth
Both of us had been close
to Joel, and at Joel’s death
my friend had gone to the wake   
and the memorial service
and more recently he had
visited Joel’s grave, there
at the back of the grassy
cemetery among the trees,
“a quiet, gentle place,” he said,   
“befitting Joel.” And I said,   
“What’s the point of going   
to look at graves?” I went
into one of my celebrated
tirades. “People go to look   
at the grave of Keats or Hart   
Crane, they go traveling just to   
do it, what a waste of time.   
What do they find there? Hell,   
I wouldn’t go look at the grave of   
Shakespeare if it was just   
down the street. I wouldn’t   
look at—” And I stopped. I
was about to say the grave of God   
until I realized I’m looking at it   
all the time....

Hayden Carruth, “Graves” from Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995. Copyright © 1996 by Hayden Carruth. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: Collected Shorter Poems 1946-1991 (Copper Canyon Press, 1992)

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Poet Hayden Carruth 1921–2008

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Religion, Death, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Hayden  Carruth


"Now and then a poet comes along whose work ranges across wide and diverse territories of form, attitude, and emotion—yet with the necessary intelligence that belies a deep, lifelong engagement with tradition—so that variance never seems mere experimentation or digression, but improvisation," wrote Midwest Quarterly contributor Matthew Miller. "Hayden Carruth is such an artist."

The National Book Award won by Carruth in 1996 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Death, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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