THE AVENUE BEARING THE INITIAL OF CHRIST INTO THE NEW WORLD: Poems 1946-1964 by Galway Kinnell

THE AVENUE BEARING THE INITIAL OF CHRIST INTO THE NEW WORLD: Poems 1946-1964

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a collection of the earlier books of Galway Kinnell, author of the more recent Body Rags, The Book of Nightmares, and a novel, Black Light. Truth tends to be revealed to him in rather transcendental moments in the wilderness -- with wild animals, trees and rocks, sunsets, climbing mountains -- moments which he recreates with great intensity and a flawless ear, but also -- when he tries to tack too great a meaning on a landscape or incident that cannot bear its weight -- not so much insincerity as pomposity, the spelling out of an idea that is stronger by insinuation. But these lapses (more noticeable in the longer poems) are rarely evidenced in the shorter, which contain some of the finest lyric lines in contemporary American poetry (""Old ih his heart, grown pale as the desert,/He looks for the Rose. He sees her in the arms/Of young men, and she is shedding tears' for him.""). Others -- such as ""To Christ Our Lord"" (""He had not wanted to shoot. The sound/Of wings beating in to the hushed air/He stirred his love, and his fingers/Froze in his glovers, and he wondered/Famishing, could he fire?...""), clearly foreshadow and yet have all the grace and power of some of his later, more famous works. This is a fine anthology by a poet of sensibility and a dazzlingly delicate sense of language, made more impressive for the long span over which these poems were written -- through which they have endured, undiminished.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1974
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin