A PRIVATE SIGNAL: Poems New and Selected by Barbara Howes

A PRIVATE SIGNAL: Poems New and Selected

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Admirers of Barbara Howes' previous volumes of verse will be glad to have this opportunity to reread old favorites, and to see what the poet has been up to lately: a generous sampling. Howes writes delicate verse that attempts to be precise. She plays with old forms; some poems resemble a villanelle, or perhaps a rondeau. All attempt the formal style, all aim at a structure, all are decorous. Many are damaged by inaccuracy right where precision matters, in their metaphors. A needle's eye does not resemble a convolvulus. So many small mistakes of fact and fancy: modern Oxford is not a stronghold of Christian faith, the point about migrating geese's formation is its shapeliness, not its ""straggling."" Sand is not a fellow creature, whatever one's views of creation. Individual poems have their interest. ""Here reigns/ Color, landscape, form,/ Rock, peacock, antelope/ Composed on an emerald field."" In the end, sheer bulk overwhelms the reader. There are not enough ideas in this volume to hold up its weight.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press