cover image More Opposites

More Opposites

Richard Wilbur. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $12.95 (34pp) ISBN 978-0-15-170072-1

These 34 whimsical ditties, like those in Wilbur's Opposites, are built around synonyms and antonyms, mostly the latter (``The opposite of stop is go / But sometimes one does both, you know''). Each poem is accompanied by a jaunty, mischievous line drawing by Wilbur. One verse explains how to address a letter to a duck or a drake; another reveals why Missouri, home of skeptical, doubting folk, is the opposite of California, the starry-eyed residents of which ``think, I'm told, that every river's full of gold.'' The ambivalent opposite of baby, as one illustration shows, is a balding grown-up with thumb in mouth--making the point that adults are not so different from children after all. Many of the verses try one's patience with their arch, self-conscious humor; others have the gimlet wit and subtle wordplay of Wilbur's finest translations (``The best thing's to avoid excess. Try to be moderate, more or less''). (Oct.)