Bye-and-Bye Selected Late Poems

Charles Wright

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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Winner of the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry

Over the course of nineteen collections of poems, Charles Wright has built one of the truly distinctive bodies of poetry created in the second half of the twentieth century. Bye-and-Bye, which brings together selections from Wright’s more recent work—including the entirety of Littlefoot, Wright’s moving, book-length meditation on mortality—showcases the themes and images that have defined his mature work: the true affinity between writer and subject, human and nature; the tenuous relationship between description and actuality; and the search for a truth that transcends change and death. Bye-and-Bye is a wonderful introduction to the late work of one of America’s finest and best-loved poets.


Praise for Bye-and-Bye

“Inside [Wright’s] lyric, there resides a world well beyond the ordinary . . . It is the heart and soul that he delivers so eloquently.”—Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times
"There are precious few contemporary poets in whose work I find as much sheer wisdom as in Wright's . . . His ascetic discipline is an instruction and an aesthetic. The whole world seems to orbit in a kind of meditative, slow circle around Wright's grave influence."—David Baker, Poetry
“In an age of casual faithlessness, Wright successfully reconstitutes the provocative tension between belief and materialism.”—Albert Mobilio, The Village Voice

“Has any other American poet been writing as beautifully and daringly over the past twenty-five years as Charles Wright? Possibly. But I cannot imagine who it would be . . . Wright has a hunk of the ineffable in his teeth and he won’t let go. In poem after poem he plumbs our deepest relationships with nature, time, love, death, creation.”—Phillip Levine, American Poet citation for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

"After 20 collections of poetry, Charles Wright still conjures stunning long-lined verse from the ether. And his newest book, Bye-And-Bye: Selected Late Poems is essential to any poetry collection . . . Chosen from his five most recent collections, the poems sometimes feel like iterations of each other, but they’re not. These variations within themes (wistfulness, the end, nature, the divine) cultivate a meditative warmth . . . it should be no surprise that Wright often stills his gaze on the horizon to wax nostalgic or contemplate mortality. It is that backdrop of death, and this remembrance of life-giving things that make these poems so breathtaking."—Alex Lemon, The Dallas Morning News
“[Wright’s] images, changing with the seasons, set the musical tone for each poem, and they are conceived in a manner that never ceases to astonish . . . He sounds like nobody else, and he has remained faithful to insights and intuitions—of darkness as of light—less than common in contemporary America.”—Helen Vendler, The New Republic
"Wright's poems mix a relentless intensity with the capacity to take inspiration from almost anything—passing thoughts, feelings and memories; other writers; whatever's out the window or nearby in the room . . . In Wright's trademark stepped lines, all of these poems—which find a voice not unlike a darker W.S. Merwin—are sobered by . . . intense notes of ecstasy, which, it turns out, is not always quite pleasant: 'Each second the earth is struck hard/ by four and a half pounds of sunlight.'"—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Charles Wright is the United States Poet Laureate. His poetry collections include Country Music, Black Zodiac, Chickamauga, Bye-and-Bye: Selected Later Poems, Sestets, and Caribou. He is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the 2013 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. Born in Pickwick Dam, Tennesee in 1935, he currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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  • Charles Wright

  • Charles Wright was awarded the National Book Award in Poetry in 1983 for Country Music and the 1995 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Chickamauga. In 2008, he was honored for his lifetime achievement with the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. He is also the winner of the Pulitzer Price, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. Wright lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Charles Wright © Holly Wright