cover image Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life

Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life

Leonard S. Marcus. Dutton Books, $15.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45164-8

In the gracefully written preface to this challenging and thought-provoking anthology, Marcus expresses the hope that the reader will ``be touched by the urgency and ardor with which the poets . . . have set about the mysterious work of examining their own life stories for traces of yours and mine.'' His superb selections are indeed likely to communicate both urgency and ardor. As the subtitle suggests, the book is divided into sections: poems about childhood, adolescence, middle age and old age are organized under the headings ``Small Traveller,'' ``I Am Old Enough,'' ``On Such a Hill'' and ``In the End We Are All Light.'' Stark black-and-white photographs introduce each section. Brief biographical notes at the end of the book identify the poets, who are drawn from diverse parts of the world; although the majority are contemporary, a few poets are from different eras (Omar Khayyam, William Blake, Li Po, Shakespeare). Like bits of multicolored string woven into an intricately patterned cloth, the poems in each section are varied in style and substance--some funny, some achingly poignant, some expected and familiar, some new--yet they cohere as a beautifully designed whole. Ages 11-up. (June)