Of Entirety Say the Sentence

Ernst Meister, trans. from the German by Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $18 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-940696-17-1
Following Foust and Frederick’s recent translations of In Time’s Rift and Wallless Space, this volume of heavily distilled metaphysical poems completes the informal trilogy of the final three books of German poet Meister (1911–1979). Informed by the occurrences in 1970 of the 200th birthday of Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin and the suicide of Paul Celan, this collection—which chronologically precedes the other two—attempts to address these figures, while serving as a rumination on the capability of language to make sense of the incomprehensible: “a verb, time’s word,/ I say it to you/ for trust,/ there is/ dying in it,/ moon and sun,/ the blaze/ that ignites houses.” The poems are, at least in part, elegiac, and thus melancholy pervades, as when “The trip/ toward the sun” becomes “The demise of the eyes/ in the hard light of the true.” And despite the slippery, fragmentary nature of language, Meister does confer to it the ability to move a person between emotional states: “here, birthed from/ the sigh,/ from cliff/ and cliff begotten,/ I say love.” Arguably the most emotionally resonant of Meister’s late trilogy, this collection carves out a much-needed space for an essential and often overlooked poet. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/21/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
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Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-1-940696-16-4
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