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Friday, April 24, 2009 1:38 pm
Updike, Gravely
Posted by: Keir Graff

Is it still National Poetry Month? It is? Good. In a suitably cruel vein, Endpoint, John Updike’s last book of poems (until someone pulls another out of a drawer) talks seriously about the business of dying (“Does Updike’s Last Verse Hit Its Mortal Mark? Plainly.” by Michael Dirda, Washington Post).

In “Flying to Florida” Updike reflects on, and identifies with, the snowbirds at Gate 16: “Now, agèd, average, dullish, lame, and halt,/we claim our due, our fun doom in the sun.” In another poem, he is given a watch with a battery “guaranteed to last ten years, at least./Ten years! It will tick in my coffin while/my bones continue to deteriorate.”

Booklist‘s Ray Olson, who doesn’t have room to quote any verse, observes: “Perhaps especially on the strength of this final collection, Updike may eventually be seen as one of the few major novelists—Scott, Hardy, Meredith, maybe Melville—who are also important poets.”

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