Flowers of Ice

Imants Ziedonis, Author, Barry Callaghan, Translator
Imants Ziedonis, Author, Barry Callaghan, Translator Sheep Meadow Press $13.95 (137p) ISBN 978-0-935296-89-1
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
This volume appropriates the allegorical style and metrical standards of the old dainas , or Latvian folk songs, giving the verse a timeless mythological quality that intends to evoke an archetypal community living in harmony with itself, with nature and with its gods. Unfortunately, Ziedonis addresses his basic themes--birth, death, love, spirituality--with a kind of naive simplicity. These poems long for some sublime musical accompaniment to elevate the banal sentiments of the verse: ``Latvia, O chock-full and sweet sister, / O butter churn / bursting at the seams, / your chin dripping cream.'' Admittedly, the poet frequently conveys the rustic communality of farming with a charmingly amusing air, yet he just as often annoys the reader with repetitious language and Zen-like platitudes about the intuitiveness of nature. Ziedonis's prose poems, called ``Epiphanies,'' are for the most part equally trite. Perhaps a portion of the blame belongs to the translator, who explains that he is unable to either read or speak Latvian and worked from literal translations, ``trying to feel the meaning'' of the poems. (Sept.)
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