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From Poetry Magazine

Tagore’s Soul and Raymond Carver’s “Happiness”

By Lindsay Garbutt

Diving into the Poetry magazine archives, we came across this minimal ad for Rabindranath Tagore’s Sheaves: Poems and Songs on the back of the February 1933 issue:

New poems by India’s beloved prophet and seer, whose verse, like his life, is distinguished by simplicity, strength and delicacy.

Poetry introduced Tagore to the English-speaking world with the publication of his poems in the magazine’s third issue, December 1912. Tagore received the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year, and the magazine went on to publish nearly two dozen of his poems. We’ve reprinted his first appearance in this month’s issue:

But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor color, and never never a word.

You can read the rest of the poems here. Can’t get enough Tagore? Seek refuge from the AWP madness by visiting the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition of his paintings. (The Art Institute is also hosting a lecture on Tagore’s work by poet and translator William Radice on March 19.)

Also, this month marks the 27th anniversary of Raymond Carver’s first appearance in Poetry. The February 1985 issue begins with his poem “Happiness”:

And ends with “Grief”:

Woke up early this morning and from my bed
looked far across the Strait to see
a small boat moving through the choppy water,
a single running light on. Remembered
my friend who used to shout
his dead wife’s name from hilltops
around Perugia. Who set a plate
for her at his simple table long after
she was gone. And opened the windows
so she could have fresh air. Such display
I found embarrassing. So did his other
friends. I couldn’t see it.
Not until this morning.

You can read the rest of Carver’s poems in the issue online. Carver was published in the magazine every year thereafter until 1990. He wrote about his first publication in Poetry, and his serendipitous first encounter with the magazine, in our seventy-fifth anniversary issue.

We’ll leave you with this treat from the back cover of Poetry’s February 1938 issue:

Indeed! Still here? Looking for more visuals from the Poetry archive? Check out our new Tumblr.

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Posted in From Poetry Magazine on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 by Lindsay Garbutt.