"Robert Oppenheimer was a complex human being. No biography yet written comes even close to this elegant skein of poems in capturing his life and character."—Richard Rhodes, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer records in poetry the life and times of one of America's best-known scientists, the father of the atomic bomb who later lobbied for containment of nuclear weaponry. In brief, elegant stanzas, Kelly Cherry examines Oppenheimer's inspirations, dreams, and values, visiting the events, places, and people that inspired him or led him to despair. She finds his place among scientists of his own time, such as Alan Turing and Albert Einstein, as well as his connections with historical and mythological figures from John Donne to Persephone.
"Of course he had blood on his hands. Who did not?" says Cherry, in "The Nature of War." Again and again in the course of this remarkable poem, Cherry's narration of Oppenheimer's life compels her readers to contemplate the vagaries of science, guilt, and our responsibilities to each other.
"Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer is a book length poem in which the architect of the atom bomb comes to embody America and the West's Faustian control of nature and the paradoxical helplessness and guilt which that control entailed. Oppenheim is marvelous, complicated, flawed and admirable character, and these poems read like chapters in a novel without in any way abandoning the intensities of feeling and image or delight in language we associate with lyric poetry. A terrific achievement and a compelling read."—Alan Shapiro, author of Life Pig and Reel to Reel
by Kelly Cherry
by William Shakespeare
by Herman Melville
by Frank Haskell
by Mark Twain
by L.M. Montgomery
by Ulysses S. Grant
Sign up for our email newsletter