Selected Poems

William Carlos Williams, Author
William Carlos Williams, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $22 (289p) ISBN 978-0-374-25881-8
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994
Release date: 10/01/1994
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-374-52455-5
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His Selected Poems sets the violent brooding of Williams's (A Dream of Mind) early writing against the lucid equanimity of his more mature work. The poetry spans three decades and offers an outline of his development. We get only occasional glimpses of the crude brutality that characterizes the poems from Lies (1969) and I am the Bitter Name (1972) in the mostly affirmative selections from Tar (1983), Flesh and Blood (1987) and his other recent books. Early, physically explicit and jarring poems like ``Saint Sex'' lead to the more cerebral work that has come to represent his style. The poems excerpted from The Lark. The Thrush. The Starling. (1983) reinforce a reader's impression of Williams's versatility while offering a formal alternative to the lengthy, Whitmanesque lines that he appears to prefer. And, though not ground-breaking, the dozen new poems here offer a closing, microcosmic view of his career with topically and stylistically familiar work. In ``Villanelle of the Suicide's Mother,'' however, Williams unexpectedly uses a formal rhyme scheme to achieve the chilling impression of a cyclic children's song. Selected by the poet, this volume is a formidable retrospective. (Oct.)
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