It is with great sadness that we report the passing of the poet Donald Justice, who died at seventy-eight on August 6 after a long illness. Justice was a quiet yet vibrant presence in the world of poetry, much respected for the excellence of his craft and the elegantly modulated passion of his poems. He was the recipient of many prizes and honors—the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, the Bollingen Prize in 1991, the Lannen Literary Award in 1996—but the fastidiousness of his verse assured that his celebrity remained select. Over the years, Justice published a few essays and many poems in The New Criterion. The first was “Children walking home from school through a good neighborhood,” which appeared in October 1984, the second issue in which we published poems. The season is autumn, the time is after school:

         Someone’s school notebook spills,
And they bend down to gather up the loose pages.
(Bright sweaters knotted at the waist; solemn expressions.)
Not that they shrink or hold back from what may come,
For now they all at once run to meet it, a little swirl of colors,
Like the leaves already blazing and falling farther north.
Later in this issue, we run a poem by William Logan dedicated to Donald Justice. We plan to run a reflection on Justice’s achievement by David Yezzi later this fall.

 

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 1, on page 3
Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/2004/9/donald-justice-1925-2004

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