Frontiers

In My Words and Songs I Will Love

English professor Charles Bernstein publishes book of selected poems.
June 2010

Charles Bernstein, the Donald T. Regan Professor of English, has been publishing poetry for 30 years. His most recent selection, All the Whiskey in Heaven, brings together some of his very best work. Bernstein is a prominent poet—and anti–poet—a critic and a co-founder of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry movement. He is the author of more than 40 books of verse and prose, and he is co-founder and co-editor of PennSound, a Web-based archive of poetry sound files.

"His selected poems gathered into this volume are a play of meaning and sound, at once opaque and accessible, dark and light, carefree and grave, sometimes whimsical but always serious." - Charles Bernstein

A New York Times review of Whiskey summarized, “Early Bernstein can be opaque, annoying those who see difficulty as elitist and who want poetry to be cuddly and educational. But everyone should love the later Bernstein, a writer who is accessible, enormously witty, often joyful—and even more evilly subversive.” His selected poems gathered into this volume are a play of meaning and sound, at once opaque and accessible, dark and light, carefree and grave, sometimes whimsical but always serious. The Times reviewer observed, “I do know that this calculating, improvisatory, essential poet won’t tell you the truth wrapped up in a neat little package. He might show it to you when you’re least expecting it.”

All the Whiskey in Heaven

Not for all the whiskey in heaven
Not for all the flies in Vermont
Not for all the tears in the basement
Not for a million trips to Mars

Not if you paid me in diamonds
Not if you paid me in pearls
Not if you gave me your pinky ring
Not if you gave me your curls

Not for all the fire in hell
Not for all the blue in the sky
Not for an empire of my own
Not even for peace of mind

No, never, I’ll never stop loving you
Not till my heart beats its last
And even then in my words and my songs
I will love you all over again