Words for My Daughter

John Balaban, Translator Copper Canyon Press $10 (80p) ISBN 978-1-55659-037-5
For Balaban (Lamont Award-winner After Our War ), the so-called civilized world is a place where wars rage, where nuclear annihilation is a persistent threat, where people lose loved ones and live lives of all-consuming sorrow. Although the poet is tied to this world by job and family, his desire for a simpler, more innocent existence leads him, time and again, to the ``Garden,'' as symbolized in this superior collection by the gorgeous landscape of the American Southwest. In ``Walking down into Cebolla Canyon,'' the poet receives what he sees as a beatific blessing from the ``vast rubble'' before him: ``everything it says is true.'' The poet has been hearing nature's voice since childhood, often heeding its call by ``wandering off alone on highways,'' walking through valleys and fields, looking ``to sing / with katydids chattering in murky trees.'' Balaban likens nature's song to poetry and sees the poet as a guide showing readers the way to ``the stairway of surprise,'' where they are able to perceive the planet's beauty as angels do. Balaban's language is lyrical and lovely, lifting us beyond the morass of our complicated lives, instilling in our hearts the hope of an exalted existence here on earth. This was selected for the National Poetry Series by W. S. Merwin. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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