“When I put a book of new poems together I go through the poems to determine whether their direction is consistent. Those that are out of line are left behind. The poems collected in Snows Gone By were written over a thirty-eight-year period, from 1964-2002. The older poems have in common the fact that they were left out of earlier books. They were, I thought then, inconsistent with what was going on in my life or work in those periods. Collected here, I realize, the poems together probably give a better idea of my total work than any of my other books have — they present a life & work that has been what it’s been, with little need for consistency.”
The Fran�ois Villon ballad that provided the title to this book (from his “Greater Testament”) is immediately preceded by lines that speak of the agonies of age & death. The ballad asks what has become of many famed & beautiful women already gone in Villon’s time, & each stanza ends with the refrain, the answer to his question, asking where the snows of yesterday have gone. As Bill Brown once said, “I knew he was dead, but I had to keep telling him the story, I had to keep talking to him.”
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