Commonwealth of Wings

Pamela Alexander, Author Wesleyan University Press $14.95 (72p) ISBN 978-0-8195-1193-5
Drawing on biographies, journals and letters, Alexander ( Navigable Waterways ) has fashioned a moving poetic account of the early 19th-century naturalist and artist. She takes us through Audubon's life, from the loss of his natural mother in Haiti, to his childhood in France amid the tumult of the Revolution, his unsuccessful business ventures in this country, his commitment to painting ``all the Birds of America, / in the size of nature,'' and his journey to Europe in search of patrons and publishers. The poems are in Audubon's voice, and Alexander does a remarkable job of maintaining a consistent tone, but one that evolves naturally with the age of her subject. Alexander's language has an uncomplicated, lyrical quality that evokes the naturalist's love of nature's organic simplicity. Away from his wife for years at a time, Audubon wrote to her often. In ``Letter to Lucy,'' he writes, ``thy presence moves in my mind like a shy bird / that flies before me, bush to bush.'' Imagining himself a bird in the masterful ``Air,'' he sees ``thousands of gannets / surging upward, wings of the closest striking my face, / and I rise, momentarily, with them.'' (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 72 pages - 978-0-8195-6992-9
Hardcover - 72 pages - 978-0-8195-2191-0
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