There is a fugitive quality about these poems and something a little glazed. Ms. Styron writes so tersely about such wistful...

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THIEVES' AFTERNOON

There is a fugitive quality about these poems and something a little glazed. Ms. Styron writes so tersely about such wistful stuff that it could be fortitude or verging hysteria that makes her bite the lines off. At any rate, her subjects are ones we all know -- love, loneliness, regret and nostalgia; romantic escapes and the pained resolution that gives them rise. The feelings are pretty much the same regardless of context; and the relation they bear to the world here strikes us as both arbitrary and pretematurally intimate. The visible world offers its instances but is powerless to alter the inward drama. This is especially true in the first section, ""Chansonnier,"" which ranges through exotic locales in a kind of distracted Whitmanesque mood. She exhorts herself to put away dreams -- ""The potato fields stretch/ fair/ as desire,"" goes one admonition. But though she purports to love the real and flawed and mortal (""A Summer's Lie""), she relates best to what is fixed in memory or fantasy, and neglects the names of present things (""Nomen""). The second section, ""Islands of Childhood,"" recalls an idyllic Cape Cod and the shimmering securities of childhood. There is a great deal of beauty (as in the first section), and no wonder she would feel driven to recoup such losses. But one questions whether the emotional orbit is wide enough to accommodate many readers?

Pub Date: July 16, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1973