The Whispering Gallery

William Logan, Author . Penguin $16 (78p) ISBN 978-0-14-303617-3

Known for his expertly witty reviews as well as for his technically accomplished verse, Logan (Vain Empires ) considers landscapes, recollections and historical events from Britain, Italy, New England and the American South in this thoughtful if sometimes derivative seventh collection. Failed Florida real estate ventures receive their just deserts in inventive identical rhyme ("lot" rhymes with the biblical "Lot," "like regret" with "every egret"); prairie dwellers find themselves "condemned to Paradise," and visitors in Venice "breathe the dust of a past we soon become." In quatrains, in nonce forms and in "Penitence"—a set of 26 linked poems (each one 19 lines of blank verse)—Logan conveys often bitter, but always intelligent, observations about collapsing marriages, disappointed travelers and the fate of the Western world. He does so, however, by hewing close to his models. The disjointed aphorisms of "Penitence" sound very much like Robert Lowell's late sonnets, the landscape poetry like the earlier Lowell. The rhyming poems have learned much, perhaps too much, from Derek Walcott. Nevertheless, Logan's one-liners demand to be quoted ("The sick know justice as a troubled dream"; "we live in an age of reasons, never reason") and his bracingly critical temperament and sharp technique easily suffice. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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