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Song Paperback – 1995
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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And yet, it is when Kelly stirs up that certainty, sometimes even undermining it, that the poems reveal their complexity. Birds burst out of a tree, and that ruptures the tree. The statue of a cherub stands at the fountain, solid as marble, and yet he questions his existence compared to other boys. Contemporary poems often delight in a reality that resembles a frayed edge, with the circumstances continually unraveling or reraveling. The poet steps into that world and notices on the reader's behalf. For instance, the Dean Young poem, where anything can happen, and Young makes it fun to not know for certain why any of it happened. With Brigit Pegeen Kelly, the world is a solid thing. Consider the Greek philosopher Parmenides, who believed the world was a solid One. Pegeen makes the idea of the One feel plausible. There is a sensibility in the poems, their thorough tone, their repetition, their subject, the reader feels he has been lodged inside that One. But with the same force that brings this One about, Kelly also stirs questions about whether this One should be just One. For instance, the island in "Distraction of Fish and Flowers in the Kill" exists as a fact, populated by many facts. A beach. The fireweed. A boy who is burning ants. People who fish the kills. But inside this very certain world lives a speaker who seems uncertain of her sanity or peace, and even more uncertain of whether she should do something about it. This kind of paradox is continually lurking below the otherwise certain states in Kelly's poems.
It is the dark water. It is the color yellow. It is the poplar tree from "Three Cows and the Moon." The tree was felled by a hurricane, but for two springs the branches bloomed. The poems of Song are at all times an accomplishment and a dark extravagance. They might fool you into thinking them immutable objects. They are not. They are seething, living organisms.