An Alphabet by Henry Weinfield


I began this sequence of alphabet poems in the summer of 2019 and completed it a year later. The sequence took shape around experiments with layered rhyme I have been making in recent years as well as around a formal rule or principle that I chose somewhat arbitrarily. This was that each of the poems would begin on the phoneme of the letter to which it was assigned, and would end either with that phoneme or with its rhyme. Some of the poems are in strict meter, but the technique of layering rhyme allowed me to vary the measure in unusual ways.  In general, the early poems in the sequence are lighter and shorter than the later ones. Perhaps I simply warmed to my theme. —Henry Weinfield


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 68
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2022
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-43-2


“These rhymes of Henry’s, A to Z, praise and sting, whistle and lullabye, and most wonderfully, make me smile.” —Billie Chernicoff

An Alphabet, yes, but also something of a grammar, exhibiting the rules of lyric poetry at its best, as both craft and art. Everything one expects from Weinfield’s verse is here: the formal perfection, the ingenious wit, the tenderness, the elegance, the deep intelligence, and (of course) the very real beauty.” —David Bentley Hart

Praise for As the Crow Flies

“This is poetry in which devotion, allusion, and personal crisis are so seamlessly interwoven that commentary seems almost a kind of trespass. Such candor and such artistry may well be increasingly rare, but have never been more urgently required or more truly welcome.”  —Donald Revell in American Book Review



X is unknown. Don’t try to solve for her.
Don’t try to peer into her clouded mirror.
The things she keeps opaque will not get clearer.
You cannot see her and you cannot hear her.
She is the chi of chaos and chimera.

Whatever X blots out or extirpates,
Her sister, Ex, preserves, perpetuates—
But only as the ghosts of former states
Imprisoned in the past. She guards the gates
And recreates what X obliterates.

She holds the key to that mysterious annex
In which experience, simple and complex,
Can be transformed: heartbreaks and life’s harsh shipwrecks,
Intimacies and secrecies of sex,
Pleasure and love, are the preserve of Ex.


Henry WeinfieldHENRY WEINFIELD’s most recent books are As the Crow Flies, a collection of poems (Dos Madres Press, 2021), and The Labyrinth of Love (Parlor Press, 2021), a verse-translation of the selected sonnets and other poems by Pierre de Ronsard. In 2019, Dos Madres published his translation of The Chimeras (Les Chimères) by Gérard de Nerval, with illustrations by the artist Douglas Kinsey. In 2018 he edited and contributed the introduction to From the Vast Versal Lexicon: Selected Poems by Allen Mandelbaum (Pennyroyal Press). His other collections of poetry include Without Mythologies: New and Selected Poems and Translations (2008) and A Wandering Aramaean: Passover Poems and Translations (2012), both from Dos Madres. His translation of and commentary on The Collected Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé appeared in 1994 (University of California Press) and his translation, done in collaboration with Catherine Schlegel, of Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, in 2006 (University of Michigan Press). He is the author of three scholarly studies, the most recent of which is The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens: Freethinking and the Crisis of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2012). A native of Montreal, he taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1991 to 2019 and now lives in New York City.

Additional information

Weight 5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in