Yet, Like a Beggar has a stronger focus on narratives than her earlier collections. As the characters in the poem discuss growing older, we discover small details about their lives: Because we experience the walk with the characters, it is easy to empathize with their concerns; we, of course, are part of their dialogue, if only as observers. All of the poems in the collection are alive with description.
This book also includes scenes of travel from his retirement. The sense of discovery—of a new place, of a new lover, of a new season—transports the reader fluidly from line to line, poem to poem in this collection, the way water moves in and out of the imagery in the poems.
Each poem is written in free verse, most without rhyming, and the line length varies with ease, sometimes shifting into prose poetry. The first three sections introduce themes used as images in the last three sections, while the middle section transports the reader from reflections on leaving a place, settling in a new one, to traveling somewhere else.
The book begins the journey in the first three sections with the idea of coming and going: The remaining three sections reflect on experiences of travel, in which the poet uses images that moved him to remember his home country in the first three sections: The Tao of Walt Whitman: This friendly daybook serves up pocket wisdom, starting with "Truth" and concluding with "Celebration.
Go dig in the dirt. Walt Whitman was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, whose mysticism, lyricism, and great heart made him beloved by many. They worked their way into my body. I have gone back to many of her poems and found more of the otherness they possess; her use of animals —— fox, geese, deer, pelican, dogs and horses et al —— helped me to understand more.
Their sweetness ruins me; their mixture of pain and pleasure terrifies me, because what she writes about is truth, and truth is almost indefinable, since everyone has his own history and beliefs; everyone feels he has right on his side. This is foremost a book of poems about all living things and all things that have lived.
It concerns reconciliation, an accounting. The narrative thread is in the weave of their forms: Follett allows the travelers in her poems to act out their own tales in their own ways and gives the reader the sense that the characters, real and imagined, are receptive and reflective, and most of all vulnerable.
She is acutely aware that her prophetic words make it difficult to answer the questions she poses. Follett gives her poems a voice that is direct and wry. The collection is a journey through its six sections.
I found that by putting the section titles together, one discovers an overview of this work that can be read as a coda, as follows: This is the enemy. This, the invincible foe. The poet says, violence is wasteful, terrorism is wasteful, both are wrong. And from section to section there are several weaves —— i.Ellen Bass Copper Canyon Press, March 70 pages $ Buy: book.
Exquisitely wrought in language and imagery, Ellen Bass’s third collection meditates on sequencing images.
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