From Publishers Weekly
Thefirst book in 10 years from former U.S. poet laureate Hass may be his best in 30: these new poems show a rare internal variety, even as they reflect his constant concerns. One is human impact on the planet at the century's end: a nine-part verse-essay addressed to the ancient Roman poet Lucretius sums up evolution, deplores global warming and says that the earth needs a dream of restoration in which/ She dances and the birds just keep arriving. Another concern is biography and memory, not so much Hass's own life as the lives of family and friends. A poem about his sad father and alcoholic mother avoids self-pity by telling a finely paced story. Hass also commemorates the late Polish Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, with whom he collaborated on translations; condemns war in harsh, stripped-down prose poems; explores achievements in visual art from Gerhard Richter to Vermeer; and turns in perfected, understated phrases on Japanese Buddhist models. Through it all runs a rare skill with long sentences, a light touch, a wish to make claims not just on our ears but on our hearts, and a willingness to wait—few poets wait longer, it seems—for just the right word. (Oct.)
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Robert Hass, poet laureate of the United States between 1995 and 1997 and author of the popular Poetâs Choice
newspaper column, surprised critics with his fifth collection of verse. As eloquent and inventive as in his previous collections, here Hass for the first time tackles public and private issuesâ"from his unhappy mother in "The World as Will and Representation" to his antiwar stance in "Bushâs War" and in other poems. Charting such territory generally pleased critics, though a few described these poems as polemics, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer
remarked that "the acrobatic risks consistently landed" better in previous collections. A few misses, perhaps, but otherwise a sublime collection from Americaâs poet.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.