By Oscar Mandel
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ALSO BY OSCAR MANDEL
The Plays of Oscar Mandel
Paperback ISBN 978-1-938849-21-3
THE MASTERFUL COLLECTED POEMS OF OSCAR MANDEL
The collected poems of Oscar Mandel, the acclaimed Belgian-born poet, playwright, fabulist, and author.
A TASTE OF OTHERWISE POEMS
AN ESPRESSO AT THE ‘NUMBER SIX’
Disinherited but dignified,
alone to the right, the same to the left,
I sip my sweetened espresso
this tolerable night.
I’m thirty, and where is home?
One more year, one more roof and soul.
A man of many homes has none:
I call no spot of earth my own.
This sterling English I bagged like a thief,
dropping, as I ran, of Flanders,
Cracow, Vienna and France good coins:
sure I must come to grief.
Yet most were kind. Some offered me
a chair, few blamed the absence of a face.
What saved my happiness, in sum,
was middling courtesy.
Refreshed, I leave a middling tip and rise.
My home is any fragrant history.
When stones have failed, and beams are scarce,
a tent, Vitruvius, must suffice.
Oscar Mandel is an acclaimed Belgian-born American author and scholar who has published on numerous topics in English as well as in French. He has written on the subjects of literary theory and art history, translated plays, and authored his own poetry, drama, and fiction. He is a Professor Emeritus of Literature at California Institute of Technology, having taught as a professor there for more than 40 years. Learn more at oscarmandel.com
Praise for Oscar Mandel’s Poetry
“It took no more than three poems for me to see that here was something very special … He should have had three Pulitzer prizes by this time … One reads with wonder and admiration….”
“The astoundingly versatile Oscar Mandel has written fiction, plays, criticism, translations, and (not least) unique and startling poems. He loves to surprise, refuses to obfuscate, pares away the fat from language and leaves strong, gleaming bone.”
“Mandel shows himself the master of wry wit and gentle self-abasement … [He] is a complete success doing what he knows he can do well.”
“A shaper of fine arrowheads from fine bone-porcelain, Mandel writes from an acquired classical heritage and acrimoniously shuns the consolations of demo-romantic cant … Erudite, fastidious and unmerciful … The path of fear leads him towards wisdom. May his nights be full of music.”
—The Hudson Review
“He’s diabolically succinct. Love him.”
“I can report both present and remembered delight at [his] epigrams, which remain hard and sharp on several rereadings … The difficulty [Mandel’s verses] bespeak is that continuing one of the coexistence of irony and joy.”
“Oscar Mandel’s verse is the wittiest comic œuvre published during the thirty years he has been writing it…. Yet…this is the poetry of a frightened man, one who…in this doomsday century has seen the worst that man can do to man.”
“[These] are the kind of poems that should be published in the New Yorker.”
“I’ve been reading … with much admiration and delight.
PRAISE FOR OTHERWISE FABLES
“Indirect, subliminal magic.”
—The New York Times
“Oscar Mandel’s present-day, tongue-in-cheek fables are worthy descendants of Aesop and La Fontaine.”
—The Hartford Courant
“Strong, sophisticard stories.”