Beautiful Signor

Cyrus Cassells, Author Copper Canyon Press $14 (120p) ISBN 978-1-55659-124-2
Cassells follows up the remarkable balance of beauty and violence captured in Soul Make a Path Through Shouting, 1994, with this sequence of love songs as he imagines himself a modern troubadour traveling with his lover through various Mediterranean countries (Italy, France, Spain, Tunisia, Greece). Dedicated to ""Lovers Everywhere,"" the poems attempt to chronicle ecstasy in an extended series of lyrics that intermingle the stimuli of the environments with an almost epicurean catalogue of the pleasures of love (""in Tuscan niches/ where our bed is green/ or trophy-bright/ in shuttered/ Florentine and Roman rooms,/ your body has become/ my refuge and intoxicant""). Emotions of love so strongly felt challenge poets to transcend the platitudes and cliches that usually accompany their expression. Cassells is not alway successful in this vein, his delicate, forceful language often skirts uncomfortably close to sentimentality: ""How brave of you/ to let me peer into your/ one in a million spirit,/ beautiful signor,/ beyond the shield and breastplate/ to boyhood/ places of wounding."" Yet, Cassells does often net the joy that is the province of unrestrained love: ""And the eyes/ of our hearts are open,/ open to the zones of joy./ Gadabouts,/ under our lids,/ we leap and leap,/ as if we might never/ touch the trampoline again."" When his poetics match the rigor exhibited in his earlier collection, the efforts to specify the delights of ""love deluxe"" come close to conveying the ecstasy his words so persistently attempt to trace. (June)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 06/01/1997
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