cover image The Collected Poems

The Collected Poems

Reynolds Price. Scribner Book Company, $64 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83203-6

Except for some mythic-religious echoes struck in this career collection (the volumes range from Vital Provisions, 1982, through The Use of Fire, 1990, and include 85 new poems), Price finds all the profundity he needs in the circumstances of daily life. The power of many poems is in the picture painted of Price the man. While subjects are often more commanding than poetics, there remain many stanzas and lines of great beauty. Price often writes of or for friends, fellow authors, students, people long known and those lost to death, many recently to AIDS. ""This fallow field behind me here/ Stretches for nearly fifty years,"" he writes, likening his life and the deaths of friends to Civil War battlefields. Many poems are literal transcriptions of his or others' dreams. Poets must dream poetically, for among these are the more powerful works in the collection. In others, Price, who is wheelchair bound and in chronic pain, faces with little self-pity or glorification his human fragility and his spiritual and physical dependence: ""Regards,/ Old logs; if we hang on long enough--too mean/ To die--they may yet learn to reconnect/ Us./ Meanwhile, dance."" (May)