Incredibly empathic poems that are beautifully understated impressions/reflections on episodes in the sudden mortal splendor that was Keats' brief life. (RC) Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
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Clark's ( Sleepwalker's Fate: New & Selected Poems ) long career has included sensitive biographies of poets (e.g., Ted Berrigan, Charles Olson) and scathing journalism about notorious incidents in American literary life ("The Great Naropa Poetry Wars"), as well as dozens of volumes of his own poetry, which has always combined a West Coast post-Beat sensibility with an East Coast hard edge. So it's somewhat surprising that Clark has chosen John Keats as the subject of a book-long collection of 127 poems and prose pieces. Why surprising? Because in this book Clark's style seems to hover between an attempt to mimic Keats and a recasting of Keats into Clark's own modern style. Thus, lush phrases like "She comes, she comes again, sighing like a ringdove / in the pallid moonshine, or tongueless Philomel / who can not utter her ravisher's name / because he has stolen away her articulation" compete with tougher lines like "His endless suspicions and moods, as though everything / He had were about to be taken from him. And it was." Clark's prose sections are often the most interesting pieces, offering the most modern as well as the most coldly detailed insights into Keats's life. Overall, while the collection is an impressive display of Clark's ability to master many poetic voices, it is only in the final section, a long 12-part deathbed (or after-death) reverie titled "Coda: Echo and Variation," that the book truly moves beyond loving tribute and technical display to a lovely and sad look back by Keats at his life, lifting the book to a high level.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This superb book raises the possibility, unsettling for academic critics, that poems may make the best criticism." --Studies in Romanticism
The brief life of John Keats the suffering of the immortal artist who dies young, whose glory is written in the stars and yet whose entry in the Book of Life is "writ in water" is the stuff of Romantic myth. "Junkets on a Sad Planet," writes Tom Clark in his notes on this remarkably original book, "is an extended reflection on the fable of the modern poet's life as Keats lived it." Written in a series of blank-verse poems interspersed with fictional "letters" by Keats and by members of his circle, the book may be read in turns as a poetic novel, a biography in verse, an allegorical masque, and a historical oratorio for several voices. Anyone who loves Keats's poetry and letters will be stunned: "Clark captures the essence of the poet's style and spirit in a minimum of elegant and haunting words." --Los Angeles Times
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Book Description Black Sparrow Press, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11087685918X