cover image New and Collected Poems

New and Collected Poems

Grace Paley. Tilbury House Publishers, $19.95 (126pp) ISBN 978-0-88448-098-3

More ruminations than poems, this volume encompasses many of the issues that Paley ( Enormous Changes at the Last Minute ) has been writing about for years in both her fiction and poetry: familial and cultural heritage, aging and the passing of time, various liberal causes to which she is attached, and the responsiblities of the poet to society. Because Paley seems more interested in ideas and ideals than in language and feeling, rarely does the imagery prompt an emotional response. Only when Paley resorts to nature as a metaphor for the cycle of existence is her poetry truly affecting. In ``Fear'' she writes: ``I am afraid of nature / because of nature I am mortal / . . . I lived in the city for forty years / in this way I escaped fear.'' Paley has a keen sense for discerning human qualities in nature's creatures. An untitled poem comments on the blind enthusiasm of youth: ``A bee! / drowning in / a wild rose / flat on its / round back / kicking / too young to / use love for / health and / enrichment.'' Ultimately, these poems convey a wise sensibility that, although not always moving, is often probing and provocative. (Apr.)