cover image Figured Wheel

Figured Wheel

Robert Pinsky. Farrar Straus Giroux, $30 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-374-15493-6

To say that Pinsky's verse is thunderous is not to imply that it is loud and unbridled. Rather, like the true nature of thunder, each poem begins with a bolt to make its presence known (as with titles like ""The Want Bone"" and ""Doctor Frolic"" or such first lines as ""Afternoon light like pollen""), rumbles on to strike primitive chords of religion and mythology in the reader's mind and winds down to a charged silence hanging on the coattails of a simple image. Brought together here are 16 new poems, the work of his four original collections and a sampling of his fine translations, including a canto from his well-received version of the Inferno. Taken as a whole, this is the record of a poet who grows from highly competent to near-transcendent, becomes more serious in tone while more complex in meter and enlivens everything from a baseball game to observations of his young daughter to an essay, in verse, on psychiatrists with a language that would be equally at home on vellum. (Apr.)