Knopf, 2005 (2005)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his slim volume of poetry opens with an ironical
Love Song (Smelt)
that identifies the "
" in Dan Chiasson's verses. A thread of irony continues to run through the poems in
. They're written with elegance, and are dense in meaning, not easily grasped in a single reading.
like the shared uncertainty in
, which the author addresses to himself concerning fortune and misfortune. The poet gets inside
, and empathizes with
giving birth in her cave in ancient Rome - '
it is hard to see through / so much time. It makes you wonder how many / other beautiful sights are hidden away in time
'. Here are lines I can relate to, in
I compare the dark / to chocolate: some rich naughty substance covering / my body. That would be invisible - to be dipped in chocolate.
' And here's a telling stanza that sums up
Inscribed on a Lintel
and, sadly, many lives - '
All my life when I worked, I disappeared inside / my work; so when my work ended, I disappeared.
he collection ends with a long musing on the nature of poetry - '
Perhaps words should be a shield, rather than / a mirror; and maybe poems should be / an ornamented shield, like the shields / gods made for their favorite soldiers, / sons and lovers.
, Dan Chiasson speculates in a tone of light irony, and with frequent modern references, on the eternal themes - love, why we're here, and the gap in understanding that separates one from another.
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