The Past

Galway Kinnell, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $13.95 (57p) ISBN 978-0-395-39385-7
In the wry title poem, Kinnell paints a Magritte-like portrait of the poet as middle-aged, indefatigable truth-seeker: ""A chair under one arm/ a desktop under the other,/ the same Smith-Corona/ on my back I even now batter/words into visibility with.'' In another haunting lyric he conjures up ``cemetery angels'' hovering over graves of the dead ``who will erupt into flower.'' But Kinnell knows that we are mortal, our existence a mote in God's eye (``A snap of the sea and a third of a century/ passes).'' Like Matthew Arnold, he reels at our aloneness in the universe, as in this description of a moonlit ocean: ``The tiny glitters all together make one wide path . . . / On shore the rocks wait, very still, for night to end.'' Through an act of imagination the poet glimpses ``what sleep would be like if one were happy.'' Ranging from lyrics on rustic Vermont living to dark odes on Hiroshima, this is a strong collection, Kinnell's first since his Selected Poems (1982) won a Pulitzer Prize. November 8
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 11/01/1985
Hardcover - 96 pages - 978-0-685-10562-7
Paperback - 57 pages - 978-0-395-39386-4
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