Publishers Weekly, 1992-12-28 In his first collection in five years, Merwin ( The Rain in the Trees ) focuses on humanity's destructive, arrogant relationship with nature, a subject that gives this work an apocalyptic tone. Less a visionary than a collector and preserver of visions, the poet travels to the now-endangered habitats of indigenous peoples whom he sees living in harmony with the earth, as well as into the past. Merwin continues to use an unpunctuated, heavily enjambed line, which can be very effective--``so we pursued those swift spirits like fire / until they had turned / to smoke blown away and the world where we / had known them had turned to smoke.'' Sometimes, however, the procedure of breaking lines before predicates seems mechanical: ``and when you were here I could see that you hoped / I would have something to say to you about / all that and it was then that we / looked up to see the thin moon now this evening.'' The rhythm works best in narrative poems, where it becomes dreamlike and intuitive: ``and the visions rose / out of the darkening voice / out of the night voice the secret voice / the rain voice the root voice / through the chant he saw his / blood in the veins of trees / he appeared in the green of his eyes / he felt the snake that was / his skin.'' (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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