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May

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The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,
takes on a used-up, feather-duster look
within a week.

The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign
sends red feelers out and up and down
to find the sun.

Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,
brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch
soft to the touch

and rank with interface of rut and rot.
The month after the month they say is cruel
is and is not.


Jonathan Galassi, “May” from North Street and Other Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Jonathan Galassi. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: North Street and Other Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2000)
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May

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  • Jonathan Galassi is the author of two volumes of poetry, Morning Run (1998) and North Street (2000), and the novel Muse (2015). Galassi is also an eminent translator of Italian poetry. He has spent over 25 years studying Eugenio Montale’s poetry and has published several collections of Montale’s work, including Eugenio Montale: The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays (1982) and Collected Poems 1920–1954 (1998). Reviewing Collected Poems for the New York Times, Nicholas Jenkins found Galassi’s translation “faithful to the weird lexical discords in Montale’s writing, to its compactness, to its odd combination of verbal vigor and imaginative obscurity, to its often exquisitely discreet avoidance of rhyme”; the London Review of Books pronounced Galassi’s rendering “unlikely to be superseded for a long time.”

    Raised in southeastern Massachusetts, Galassi studied poetry at Harvard University with Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is an...

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