cover image Echoes


Robert Creeley. New Directions Publishing Corporation, $17.95 (116pp) ISBN 978-0-8112-1263-2

Fittingly, Creeley's ( Windows ) new collection is prefaced by the Coleridge poem ``Frost at Midnight,'' in which the speaker celebrates ``This populous village! . . . the numberless goings on of life.'' Creeley's home in this cacophony is, first and foremost, language; and with his proclivity towards condensation, he brings his ruminations on aging, mortality and memory into focus. Creeley is not so much concerned with material particulars but with the mind's sense of particularity, the minute echoes that clamor for attention in a consciousness unprepared. But for all of his complexity, the poet's responses to his own sense of aging are surprisingly witty, lyrical and grounded: ``Dogs barked. Rabits ran. / It comes to such end, / friend.'' Two longer poems buttress the otherwise epigraphic, crystallized work that makes up much of the collection. The first is ``Sonnets,'' which contrasts the external human landscape of violence with a more internal one. The second is ``Roman Sketchbook,'' which closes the collection--a ``confident traveler'' wanders the streets of Rome exploring the relationship between the internal and external. For all the ``echoes'' in the collection, the reader may begin to wonder if there is a unified ``intent'' at work, but Creeley is one step ahead of us, inserting a little note midway through the book: ``So I am not finally . . . even thinking to persuade the reader of some conviction I myself hold dear. I am trying to practice an art.'' With this ``authority'' in mind, Echoes succeeds beautifully. (Apr.)