In his new collection, Stanley Plumly confronts and celebrates mortality in the detailed natural world, in the immediacy of the loss of friends, and in personal encounters. Read more...
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In his new collection, Stanley Plumly confronts and celebrates mortality in the detailed natural world, in the immediacy of the loss of friends, and in personal encounters. Archetypal, sometimes even allegorical, the poems in Old Heart amount to a sustained meditation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters declared of Plumly that "he has in the last thirty years quietly, steadily, expanded the range of lyric poetry in English...[and] reinvigorated our poetry." His ethical rigor and literary modesty combine in "Old Heart" his finest book of poetry.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 49.
- Review Date: 2007-08-20
- Reviewer: Staff
The eighth gathering of poems from Plumly (Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me) offers many beauties but few surprises. Onrushing, almost whispering, pentameters, divided into lyric meditations, depict the winters, summers, springs, snows, fogs, skies and greenery of Europe and of the American East Coast, where Plumly resides. We see “a winter city, night city, streetlights/ blurred in mist” (Prague); “glittering halves of oyster shells”; “first crocuses and the lavender called redbud” blooming on a college campus; even, in one poem called “Pastoral,” the “complexities of leaves,/ the umbels, whorls, bracts, and involucres.” Plumly remains as much a poet of elegy as he is a poet of nature: odes and memorials to other poets, living and dead, show “how we all change with time but don't.” Plumly can seem morbid, or bathetic, as in a sonnet called “When He Fell Backwards into His Coffin,” about a corpse found in a bathtub; he can also seem content with mere prettiness, speaking nothing but “Summer's/ language like sunlight on stone, light itself the stone.” Yet Plumly has admirers for good reason: few poets have sounded so often so comfortable at once with the recollections and strong emotions involved in autobiography, and with attention to a beautiful natural world. (Sept.)