Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Updike at Rest

John Updike died today. What a drag.

I've been reading his novels all my life, and am also a fan of his poems, his essays...the man wrote so much, you can could read everything you found and never catch up. For all of his brilliance, he had a warm and humble voice that I'll miss a lot.

It's strange to think that we will never again encounter an Updike essay by surprise. You could always count on a new poem popping up in the New Yorker, or an essay on some obscure painter printed in the New York Review of Books, but it was a particular delight to find an unexpected article in Vanity Fair or Golf Digest or some airplane's in-flight magazine. The man's output, to say nothing of his range, was just staggering.

Anyway, tributes abound. The Guardian has a particularly nice remembrance of the man, with some beautiful photographs which put one in mind of a poem from Updike's second collection of light verse, "Telephone Poles," published in 1963.


Please do not tell me there is no voodoo,
For, if so, how then do you
Explain that a photograph of a head
Always tells us if the person is living or dead?

Always. I have never known it to fail.
There is something misted in the eyes, something pale,
If not in the lips, then in the hair -
It is hard to put your finger on, but there.

A kind of third dimension settles in:
A blur, a kiss of otherness, a milky film.
If, while you hold a snapshot of Aunt Flo,
Her real heart stops, you will know.

1 comment:

z.briedis said...

i remember blueberries in a pie plate and girls at the a&p.