Thomas Fitzsimmons went into World War II as an underage merchant seaman just after Pearl Harbor and was discharged from the USAAF just after Hiroshima. Iron Harp is a book about the memories, hard and sweet, which linger throughout a lifetime. One mans centuryfrom a depressed New England mill-town in the 1920s, through the spirit-splintering insanities of World War II, to renewal in love, and on to glimpses of grace in Japan, along the Mediterranean, and in the high desert of New Mexico. Many of these poems are poignant evocations of battle and its emotional aftermath and leave the reader shuddering as to the undeniable folly of war.
Poetry, as in these lifelines from Thomas Fitzsimmons, America's poet of the truly lived. Spoken in these pages is such a life. As told of here "in our shared world," even the oldest, greatest horrors can be in time unspelled through love, the grace of places and new days. One man's centurybut so much more than a century is here, so much more than mere time, the least of what a life is. Here speaking is the kind of bard that teaches what bards are created to teach: how to live, how to die, how to be born anew; where to find courage in despair, how to perceive divinity in the light of dayhow to remember, in other words, what must never be forgotten. One way or another, it is all here in these pages: birth and death, and sighting of the beauty within and in between, proving in us all the grace to go on. Let these lines sing in the ancient, life-lived way.
Robert Brady, Kyoto Journal
Thomas Fitzsimmons was born in Lowell, Massachusetts,
October, 1926. Formerly writer/editor, The New Repuclic, (Washington,
DC), feature writer, The Asahi Daily News (Tokyo, Japan), he is author,
translator or editor of more than 60 books, 32 of which currently are
in print. At present he is editor of two book series from University
of Hawai'i Press: Asian Poetry in Translation: Japan, and Reflections.