Three Early Books of Poems by Louis Daniel Brodsky, 1967–1969

The Easy Philosopher, "A Hard Coming of It" and Other Poems, and The Foul Rag-and Bone Shop

edited by Sheri Vandermolen

Hardback and Paperback: 205 pp.
Published: 1997

Price: $25.00, $16.95




Louis Daniel Brodsky compiled his first poetry book, Five Facets of Myself, in January 1967 and his second, The Foul Rag-and-Bone Shop, in April of that year. He returned to Five Facets in June, sorting its fifty poems into two new manuscripts, The Easy Philosopher and "A Hard Coming of It" and Other Poems, and adding several new pieces to each text as well.

During his graduate years in San Francisco, Brodsky set those books aside, to focus on his prose writing. But by 1969, having settled into a home in Farmington, Missouri, he once again concentrated on his poetry, resuming revision of The Foul Rag-and-Bone Shop. Eager to gather his best new verse, he supplemented the manuscript with twelve new poems, before calling the work complete.

Comprising The Easy Philosopher, "A Hard Coming of It" and Other Poems, and the expanded version of The Foul Rag-and-Bone Shop, this volume is essential "early Brodsky."




These books represent Brodsky's finest early work. Brodsky's reflections . . . evoke a timelessness making the poems as relevant today as they were decades ago. This 3-in-1 anthology is highly recommended reading for all poetry enthusiasts, and a "must" for all Brodsky collectors!

— Wisconsin Bookwatch


I read Three Early Books of Poems by Louis Daniel Brodsky with great pleasure. Reading these poems is watching him discover most of the themes that he'll explore in his later poems. . . . They clearly show the mature poet to come. . . . Brodsky . . . is a poet you read with all the pleasure of feeling your brains go up onto the tips of their toes, dancing. You know there's high intelligence here. You feel the wit. . . .  Most of these poems are firmly rooted in the turbulent sixties, and he spoke to my memories of those struggling times. Even in his early poems, he shows an encompassing understanding of our human situation.

— Charles Muñoz, former poetry editor of the Jewish Spectator






The Well

I climb up the well
That's bored within my drowsy head.
Its moss-cobbled walls
Barely support my heels and toes.
I have passed this night down here
Up to my knees in silt and fungus,
Among splintered rabbits and fowl.
No water has filled this cylinder for years.

During the night, accidental trespassers,
Guarded from specters and reckless insects
Within their lanterns' penumbras,
Must have placed these planks
That lid the opening, where light just drips.
I can't budge the intractable cover
Above my head. Precarious balance
Teases me. My arms span the diameter.

But I am no Samson, and these dank walls,
Pillars that buttress the worm-burrowed earth
Of my unfurrowed fields, don't yield.
Am I Leonardo's frozen humanist,
Head hung in painful repose, naked legs
Groping between middle-aged darkness?
Only the hands' diminishing strength
Keeps me from another descent.



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