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One Secret Thing

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eBook published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Sharon Olds completes her cycle of family poems in a book at once intense and harmonic, playful with language, and rich with a new self-awareness and sense of irony.

The opening poem, with its sequence of fearsome images of war, serves as a prelude to poems of home in which humor, anger, and compassion sing together with lyric energy—sometimes comic, sometimes filled with a kind of unblinking forgiveness. These songs of joy and danger—public and private—illuminate one another. As the book unfolds, the portrait of the mother goes through a moving revisioning, leading us to a final series of elegies of hard-won mourning. One Secret Thing is charged throughout with Sharon Olds’s characteristic passion, imagination, and poetic power.

The doctor on the phone was young, maybe on his
first rotation in the emergency room.
On the ancient boarding-school radio,
in the attic hall, the announcer had given my
boyfriend’s name as one of two
brought to the hospital after the sunrise
service, the egg-hunt, the crash—one of them
critical, one of them dead. I was looking at the
stairwell banisters, at their lathing,
the necks and knobs like joints and bones,
the varnish here thicker here thinner—I had said
Which one of them died, and now the world was
an ant’s world: the huge crumb of each
second thrown, somehow, up onto
my back, and the young, tired voice
said my fresh love’s name.

from “Easter 1960”


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Show less
Sharon Olds completes her cycle of family poems in a book at once intense and harmonic, playful with language, and rich with a new self-awareness and sense of irony.

The opening poem, with its sequence of fearsome images of war, serves as a prelude to poems of home in which humor, anger, and compassion sing together with lyric energy—sometimes comic, sometimes filled with a kind of unblinking forgiveness. These songs of joy and danger—public and private—illuminate one another. As the book unfolds, the portrait of the mother goes through a moving revisioning, leading us to a final series of elegies of hard-won mourning. One Secret Thing is charged throughout with Sharon Olds’s characteristic passion, imagination, and poetic power.

The doctor on the phone was young, maybe on his
first rotation in the emergency room.
On the ancient boarding-school radio,
in the attic hall, the announcer had given my
boyfriend’s name as one of two
brought to the hospital after the sunrise
service, the egg-hunt, the crash—one of them
critical, one of them dead. I was looking at the
stairwell banisters, at their lathing,
the necks and knobs like joints and bones,
the varnish here thicker here thinner—I had said
Which one of them died, and now the world was
an ant’s world: the huge crumb of each
second thrown, somehow, up onto
my back, and the young, tired voice
said my fresh love’s name.

from “Easter 1960”


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Product Details
eBook (112 pages)
Published: August 21, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307804372
Other books bySharon Olds
  • The Unswept Room

    The Unswept Room
    From Sharon Olds—a stunning new collection of poems that project a fresh spirit, a startling energy of language and counterpoint, and a moving, elegiac tone shot through with humor. From poems that erupt out of history and childhood to those that embody the nurturing of a new generation of children and the transformative power of marital love, Sharon Olds takes risks, writing boldly of physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations that are seldom the stuff of poetry. These are poems that strike for the heart, as Sharon Olds captures our imagination with unexpected wordplay, sprung rhythms, and the disquieting revelations of ordinary life. Writing at the peak of her powers, this greatly admired poet gives us her finest collection. From the Hardcover edition.

    Blood, Tin, Straw

    Blood, Tin, Straw
    Poems
    From Sharon Olds—a stunning new collection of poems that project a fresh spirit, a startling energy of language and counterpoint, and a moving, elegiac tone shot through with humor. From poems that erupt out of history and childhood to those that embody the nurturing of a new generation of children and the transformative power of marital love, Sharon Olds takes risks, writing boldly of physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations that are seldom the stuff of poetry. These are poems that strike for the heart, as Sharon Olds captures our imagination with unexpected wordplay, sprung rhythms, and the disquieting revelations of ordinary life. Writing at the peak of her powers, this greatly admired poet gives us her finest collection. From the Hardcover edition.

    Strike Sparks

    Strike Sparks
    Selected Poems, 1980-2002
    A powerful collection from one of our most gifted and widely read poets–117 of her finest poems drawn from her seven published volumes. Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds’s poetry “pure fire in the hands” and cheered the “roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.” This rich selection exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, an exciting experimentation with rhythm and language and a movement toward an embrace beyond the personal. Subjects are revisited–the pain of childhood, adolescent sexual stirrings, the fulfillment of marriage, the wonder of children–but each recasting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits. Strike Sparks is a testament to this remarkable poet’s continuing and amazing growth. From the Hardcover edition.

    Stag's Leap

    Stag's Leap
    Poems
    Stag’s Leap is stunningly poignant sequence of poems that tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom. In this wise and intimate telling—which carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending—Sharon Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music—sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry Olds has yet given us.

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