Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995

Adrienne Cecile Rich, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25 (96p) ISBN 978-0-393-03868-2

In poems written since 1991, Rich conceives a spare but variegated poetic landscape where the borders of politics, art and personal relationships dissolve to unloose disembodied, truth-telling voices: ``...this is not somewhere else but here,/ our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,/ its own ways of making people disappear.'' Two sections, ``What Kind of Times Are These'' and ``Then Or Now,'' explore the individual mind's impress on the world, sometimes drawing from the lives of political visionaries and intellectuals. In the 10-part poem, ``Calle Vision,'' a real place becomes a topography of human memory and imagination. Ideas (``surely the love of life is never-ending'') undulate with imagistic details (``a cat drinks from a bowl of marigolds'') in poems with often shorter lines than in her last book, An Atlas of the Difficult World; forms like couplets and quatrains are also more frequently used here. Distilled to shorthand, this is political, deeply personal poetry that emerges from Rich's experience of the world's horrors and beauty, and her knowledge that ``The beauty of darkness/ is how it lets you see.'' (Sept.)
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