Stanley Moss is a poet, a publisher of poetry, and a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. His first book of poetry was published almost 50 years ago; at Sheep Meadow Press, he’s published such authors as John Ashberry, Stanley Kunitz and Frederico Garcia Lorca (posthumously).
Now Moss has published what must stand as a testament to his career as a poet, God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike: New & Later Collected Poems. The poems are dazzling in their breadth, from mythology to art, and from love to religion. There are extended farewells to friends who’ve died; there are poems that celebrate and remember.
Many of the poems are about time and aging. Moss feels time pressing upon him, and he presses back. From “Glutton:”
If I could gorge on time, twirl hours on my fork
and wipe my plate clean with my daily bread,
but I am Time’s pretzel, his pistachio nut.
I wish I were time’s spaghetti carbonara.
I am what he munches, kept on the bar
Long enough for the waitress to take the order,
for Time to be seated, whoever he is –
this Godlike No God who little by little
devours me. Eat , eat my Lord,
you will not swallow me in one gulp…
He keenly feels the loss of friends to death, perhaps a reminder of his own mortality. There were several poems about or dedicated to poet and writer Stanley Kunitz, such as “Autumn:”
In a dream after he died
I received picture postcards
from him every day for two weeks
in a single night – the picture:
blazing maples and walnut trees,
New England in full foliage.
I wept that he should write
To me and my wife in a handwriting not his
in blue ink so often.
Since I do not remember the text,
I suppose the message was:
“Every autumn you know where to find me.”
He remembers swimming across the Hudson River when he was seven; in one excellent poem he compares Walt Whitman to the falling of the World Trade Center towers; he ponders the Holocaust; and he writes a six-poem commentary on Antony and Cleopatra called “Along the Tiber.”
He understands the basic of many religions while he seems to wrestle, like Jacob, with the God of his Jewish faith. And this wrestling becomes more important with age. In fact, many of the poems in this volume are about God, and understanding God.
God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike is an extraordinary collection of a man’s life.