American Life in Poetry: Column 371

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Dana Gioia, who served as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, did a marvelous job of bringing the arts to Americans, arguably the best job that anyone in that position has done. He was a fine poet before he took that job, and he is a fine poet after. Here’s an example of his recent work.

Pity the Beautiful

Pity the beautiful,
the dolls, and the dishes,
the babes with big daddies
granting their wishes.

Pity the pretty boys,
the hunks, and Apollos,
the golden lads whom
success always follows.

The hotties, the knock-outs,
the tens out of ten,
the drop-dead gorgeous,
the great leading men.

Pity the faded,
the bloated, the blowsy,
the paunchy Adonis
whose luck’s gone lousy.

Pity the gods,
no longer divine.
Pity the night
the stars lose their shine.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Dana Gioia, whose most recent book of poems is <em>Pity the Beautiful,</em> Graywolf Press, 2012. Poem reprinted from <em>Poetry,</em> May 2011, by permission of Dana Gioia and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.