Eiseley's science has always had a poetic aspect, so it is only reasonable that his poetry should benefit from his...

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NOTES OF AN ALCHEMIST

Eiseley's science has always had a poetic aspect, so it is only reasonable that his poetry should benefit from his scientific vantage. It does, greatly; but science and poetry, as modes of experience, aren't usually so compatible even in Eiseley's mind, and the poems here are preoccupied with their conflict in all its manifestations. Most of the pieces aim at some sort of resolution--whether it be in a long, mystical vista or a rational synthesis or simply esthetic closure--and the persistence of the effort gives the volume a kind of urgent dignity. It also has a certain air of futility, for Eiseley is already gripped in a mood of nostalgia and apprehension--science versus poetry also translates as technology versus nature and from there it is a short step to death versus life. Styling himself ""Wild animist"" and ""nature's changeling,"" he makes his own commitment clear, and it is of course the same conviction that warms and humanizes his scientific works. But in poetry, and especially in the wafting, aerated forms he chooses, his meditations veer sharply toward romanticism. And his romanticism, one feels, could easily flounder in lyric extremes if science were not there, in his mind if not his heart, to curb the surge with its strict perspectives and bridle the wonder with clear, proper names. All in all, this is a very moving work, rich and sometimes agonized.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972