Collected Poems: Leslie Norris

Leslie Norris, Author
Leslie Norris, Author Seren Books $21.95 (180p) ISBN 978-1-85411-132-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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The sense of well-wroughtness generated by these poems, gathered from this Welsh poet's seven previous collections, suggests that peaceable British lyric observation should endure forever as the quiet foundation of all English-language poetry. After 30 years of steady publication and a lengthy stint teaching at Brigham Young University in the U.S., Norris demonstrates a clear development from the earliest Dylan Thomas-inspired poems, filled with archaic similes and phrasings, to the defter, largely pastoral later work. From ""Ransoms"" (1970) is the following line: ""Around, the ring of hills wears light/ of morning like a steel helmet."" In 1989's ""A Sea in the Desert"" is found this more open and musical observation: ""What trick of the strengthening/ light, what angle of the tilting world/ to the sun, what is the alarm/ that sets the trees to work?"" Norris's lines carry an insistent authority: ""Winter drought, and a parched wind/ Roughens the mud. Wrapped in a parka,/ Leaning bleakly into the slack/ The blast misses as it screams over/ The blackthorn, I'm tramping a/ Chalk ditch from the downs."" Along with the fineness of observation and economy of statement, however, there is also a sameness of stance and focus on the natural world. In this book, it's not hard to pick out a six good descriptions of a snowfall or a dozen deft phrases for the sunset. The new poems are rooted in a personal past and, read last, cast an illuminating light on preceding works. (Sept.)
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