Edward Dorn (1929-1999)


It was my finding a poem of Ed's quite by chance that put us in touch. It's difficult now to explain how bleak and lonely the literary and intellectual landscape was in the late fifties early sixties.... how few, and how dispersed, like minds were: certainly over here. In our times together, fragmented as they were over almost forty years and many places, there was nothing that could not be talked about, no sacred cows: laughter and light are my clearest memories.

The last time I saw Ed and Jenny, this summer, he insisted on driving to Boulder to collect me and bring me to Denver. I knew that was all his energy for the day, but didn't protest as I sensed it was important to him to do it. We drove down, remarking on the urban sprawl, the jerry-built town houses, the strange shiny high-tech blocks that twenty years had thrown along that highway. Stopping at the University we loaded heavy boxes of books from his office. At home we sat on the porch scaring away squirrels with an air-rifle: he hated them for attacking the fruit of an apple tree he'd planted whose crop he'd never been able to taste. Then he went to bed. A particular gentleman to the end. Style.

Tom Raworth
Cambridge, England
14 December 1999

    "In my Youth I Was a Tireless Dancer"

    But now I pass
    graveyards in a car.
    The dead lie,
    with their feet towards me-
    please forgive me for
    saying the tombstones would not
    fancy their faces turned from the highway.

    Oh perish the thought
    I was thinking in that moment
    Newman Illinois
    the Saturday night dance-
    what a life! Would I like it again?
    No. Once I returned late summer
    from California thin from journeying
    and the girls were not the same.
    You'll say that's natural
    they had been dancing all the time.

    -- Ed Dorn
       Hands Up!
       New York: Totem Press, 1964