The Cosmos Trilogy

The Cosmos Trilogy

by Frederick Seidel

Paperback(First Edition)

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"You Can't Like Seidel's Poems—They're Deliberately Virulent; You Can Only Gasp At Their Skill And Daring, Their Sickening Warp, Their Mercilessness."*

Frederick Seidel's highly acclaimed Cosmos Trilogy is a triple thunderclap of darkness from the poet whom Richard Poirier has recently called "the true heir of Walt Whitman" and of whose first book Robert Lowell wrote "[I] suspect the possibilities of modern poetry have been changed. Here is power that strikes." Reversing the course of Dante's Divine Comedy, Seidel's trilogy begins in the heavens, with The Cosmos Poems, and descends, passing through the Purgatorio of Life on Earth to arrive in Manhattan in Area Code 212.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374528911
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 11/24/2003
Series: Cosmos Trilogy Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,231,391
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Frederick Seidel's previous books of poems include Final Solutions; Sunrise, These Days; Poems, 1959-1979; My Tokyo (FSG, 1993); Going Fast (FSG, 1998); The Cosmos Poems (FSG, 2000); and Life on Earth (FSG, 2001).

Read an Excerpt

The Cosmos Poems

Into the Emptiness

Into the emptiness that weighs
More than the universe
Another universe begins
Smaller than the last.

Begins to smaller
Than the last.
Do not yet exist.

My friend, the darkness
into which the seed
Of all eleven dimensions
Is planted is small.

Travel with me back
Before it grows to more.
The church bell bongs,
Which means it must be noon.

Some are playing hopscotch
Or skipping rope during recess,
And some are swinging on swings,
And seesaws are seesawing.

That she is shy,
Which means it must be May,
Turns into virgin snow
And walking mittened home with laughing friends.

And the small birds singing,
And the sudden silence,
And the curtains billow,
And the spring thunder will follow --

And the rush of freshness,
And the epileptic fit that foams.
The universe does not exist
Before it does.

Mirror Full of Stars

A can of shaving cream inflates
A ping-pong ball of lather,
Thick, hot, smaller than an atom, soon
The size of the world.

This does take time to happen.
Back at the start
Again, a pinprick swells so violently
It shoots out

Hallways to other worlds,
But keeps expanding
Till it is all
There is. The universe is all there is.

Don't play with matches.
The candle flame follows her
With its eyes. The night sky is a mirror
On a wall.

What she stands in front of are the roaring afterburners
Of the distant stars a foot away
Leaving for another world. They have been summoned
To leave her

For another girl
In another world who stands there looking
In a mirror full of stars
At herself in her room.

The room is not really,
But it might be. If there is
Something else as beautiful
As this snow softly falling outside, say.

The universe begins
With a hot ball of lather expanding
In a hand
That should be in her bed asleep.

Who the Universe Is

The opposite of everything
That will be once
The universe begins
Is who it is.

Laws do not apply
To the pre-universe.
None of it
Does not make sense.

Puffs to the size
Of an orange in one single stunned
From smaller than a proton.

Morning coffee black
Happiness so condensed
Had to expand to this,
Had to expand to this,

Had to expand to this
Universe of love
Of freezing old
Invisible dark matter

To give it gravity.
If the hot unbelievable
Nothingness feeds
Itself into a hole and starts,

None of this does not make sense
Once you understand
The stars are who it is,
The sisters and the brothers.

Set the toaster setting between Light and Dark
And the unimaginable
Pre-universe will pop up a slice of strings
In eleven dimensions which balloons.


Think of the suckers on the tentacles
Without the tentacles. A honeycomb
Of space writhing in the dark.
Time deforming it, time itself deformed.

Fifteen billion light-years later a president
Of the United States gives the Gettysburg Address.
Two minutes.
The solar system
Star beams down on him.

Other special stars express themselves,
Not shy at all, particles
Of powder floating on the swirl, each
Vast -- each a vast pillow covering

A hidden speck it murderously
Attempts to suffocate.
The speck will eat it up.
The speck of gravity is a hole.

Through that hole there is a way.
There are as many of these, there are as many of these
Invisible black caviar
Specks as it would take

To fill the inside of St. Peter's to the roof.
It is the number
Of grains of sand on the shores
Surrounding the continent of Africa times ten.

Each invisible eyelet is a black hole
Highway out of time.
Think of the universe as a beanbag
On a bobsled on a run under lights at night.

Inside are universes.
It is incompletely dark inside.
There is motion.
There is the possibility.

Black Stovepipe Hat

The wobbly flesh of an oyster
Out of its shell on the battlefield is the feel
Of spacetime
In the young universe.

The petals of the rose
Of time invaded
The attitude of zero and made it
Soften its attitude.

Lincoln's black stovepipe hat
Was dusty when he sat down
To scant applause. Many in the crowd did not know
He had just delivered
The Gettysburg Address, but it is over,
And the stars keep on redshifting,
The universe keeps on expanding
The petals of the rose.

U S. Grant's cigar's red tip
Pulsed the primal fireball out
Through the new universe
It was the creator of with shock waves.

Speckles of the stars
And baby's breath (the flower)
Activate infinity
And decorate the parlor.

Baby's breath is counting on the roses
With it in the vases.
It is difficult to understand
Why the universe began.

It is difficult to be
Robert E. Lee.
Why does the cosmos have to happen?
What is another way?

Copyright © 2003 Pat Barker

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