|Title||:||In Other Words|
|Number of Pages||:||370 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
In Other Words Reviews
Swenson is a poet of the visual. She sees in words more than any other poet that I’ve read. That is not to say the language doesn’t contain wordplay…it does. The point is that Swenson doesn’t focus on structure, although she toys with it endlessly. She also uses multiple illusions, references, and lyricism endlessly. However, when I read her poems I am not struck predominantly by these things…I’m struck by the fact that I can see her subject matter. It is the matter of everyday – nature, certain people, certain situations. A great example is the very visual “Three White Vases”:A Sunday in June. tippily until,The water’s clear taken in chargecornflower blue, by tiller and rein,the sky its mirror. the spunky scrapsDistinctly clear of sails snap tightthe opposite coast, and slant on the wind.its chalky sands A speedboat scampersand miniature pavilions. arcs of white spray,A flock of yachts, a white pontoon planemidwater, distant, putt-putts, puts downspins. Near shore, into choppy furrowsunder my eye, of the bay.the waves are dark Uniquely bright,blue, mussel-dyed, the light todaywhere kids on a raft reveals the sceneteeter, splash, and as through a panedive. Slippery bodies that’s squeegee-clean.climb up into sun White as the whiteon the hot white planks. catamarans bobbing,Agile little hips gulls on black-tippedAll wear different- wings skids over.Colored stripes. My eye follows As do the dinky to where they land.Sunfish setting out on a lonely, reedy patchof sand I see three The parents, that pairwhite vases stand, of snowies, had a nesteach differently shaped: in the eelgrassone upright neck, all spring. The thirdone hunched, the third bird, the whitest,with neck downcurved. is their child,Each fixed eye, intent, looks like a bud vase,watches what flinches that long neck.just under waveskin: I see himbig school of tiny unhinge his slimglinting baitfish bill, wilt his neck.spread on the bay. I see the whitesnaky throatof the young egretcapably squirma blade-thin fish down.The mastery of the visual is nowhere more evident than in her poetic obituary to Elizabeth Bishop, a poet of similar inclination, in “In the Bodies of Words” on page 56:Tips of the reeds silver in sunlight. A cold windsways them, it hisses through quills of the pines.Sky is clearest blue because so cold. Birds drop downin the dappled yard: white breast of nuthatch, slatecatbird, cardinal the color of blude.Until today in Delaware, Elizabeth, I didn’t knowyou died in Boston a week ago. How can it beyou went from the world without my knowing?Your body turned to ash before I knew. Why was thereno tremor of the ground or air? No lightning flickbetween our nerves? How can I believe? How grieve?I walk the shore. Scraped hard as a floor by wind.Screams of terns. Smash of heavy waves. Wind ripsthe courners of my eyes. Salty streams freeze on my face.A life is little as a dropped feather. Or split shelltossed ashore, lost under sand….But vision lives!Vision, potent, regenerative, lives in bodies of words.Your vision lives, Elizabeth, your wordsfrom lip to lip perpetuated.Two days have passed. Enough time, I think, for deathto be over. As if your death were not before my knowing.For a moment I jump back to when all was well and ordinary.Today I could phone to Boston, say Hello….Oh, no!Time’s tape runs forward only. There is no replay.Light hurts. Yet the sky is dull today. I walk the shore.I meet a red retriever, young, eager, gallopingout of the surf. At first I do not notice his impairment.His right hind leg is missing. Omens….I thought I saw a rabbit in the yard this morning.It was a squirrel, its tail torn off. Distortions….Ocean is gray again today, old and creased aluminumwithout sheen. Nothing to see on that expanse.Except, far out, low over sluggish waves, a longclotted black string of cormorants trails south.Fog-gray rags of foam swell in scallops up the beach,there outlines traced by a troupe of pipers—your pipers, Elizabeth!—their racing legs like spokesof tiny wire wheels.Faintly the flying string can still be seen.It swerves, lowers, touching the farthest tips of waves.Now it veers, appears to shorten, points straight out.It slips behind the horizon. Vanished.But vision lives, Elizabeth. Your vision multiplies,is magnified in the bodies of words.Not vanished, your vision lives from eye to eye,your words from lip to lip perpetuated.“Some Quadrangles” is a wonderful poem, at times beautiful, irreverent, and wistful, was written during Swenson’s time at college. It provides an unforgettable image of Harvard, inside the minds of the students and also without.The collections end on a philosophical note, and it is the perfect summing up. In the poem, Blondi the cockatoo sings:The purpose of life isTo find the purpose of lifeTo find the purposeOf life isThe purposeLife isTo findThis is a wonderfully original volume of poetry.
A collection of May Swenson's poetry, many of which are simply lovely. I enjoy her fresh use of imagery and metaphor and her natural and ornithological themes. I also enjoy her otherwise ordinary subject matter.
811.54 S974in 1987