No Mercy

Lee Upton, Author
Lee Upton, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $9.94 (58p) ISBN 978-0-87113-328-1
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Selected by poet James Tate for inclusion in the National Poetry Series, this collection reveals Upton as a gifted poet with a soft-toned but exacting sensibility. An explorer of minutiae, she creates in her best poems unforgettable, precisely rendered microcosms that suggest a quiet lyricism pervading everyday life. In a pond she finds ``the nerves of water, the freshwater whelk's red / jelly eggs, the roots of a flossy lily.'' In a friend's collection of decorative miniatures--where ``life requires / tweezers, a beauteous order''--are observed ``pears so delicate they float / as if a breath might fling them / against the tiny windows.'' Poems often follow an incident of apparently modest significance--a train ride, buying a piano--to its quixotic conclusion, subtly measuring the inevitable distance between real and ideal, beloved and lover. The poems founder only when witticisms obtrude or abstractions and rhetorical questions become unhappily jumbled. (Nov.)
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