Kyrie: Poems

Ellen Bryant Voight, Author, Ellen B. Voigt, Author
Ellen Bryant Voight, Author, Ellen B. Voigt, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (79p) ISBN 978-0-393-03796-8
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Kyrie eleison-Lord have mercy. In this book-length sequence Voigt (Two Trees) develops a portrait in mosaic of the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic, set against the backdrop of WWI. Seldom have panic and despair been depicted so lyrically. A young schoolteacher and her fiance, a soldier, are the principal speakers in these loosely structured sonnets; in the teacher's voice, Voigt finds a form to embody compassion driven out by fear. Associations are carried through powerful imagery. Early in the book, when her sister dreams of dead animals with human faces, the teacher assumes her fiance has been injured: ``I didn't know/it was us she saw in the bloody trenches.'' Voigt uses several voices, most not precisely identified; readers become major players, joining or separating the speakers at will. Modern poets as diverse as John Berryman and Ted Berrigan have explored the sonnet form, but these mostly expanded verses add new dimensions. (June)
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