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A selection of works from 1946 to the present by the poetry editor of the New Yorker, this demonstrates how singleminded Moss has been in his singing of dualities -- regeneration and death, time-bound fact and the atemporal imagination. Those basic opposites -- equally complements -- pervade his vision until amost nothing serves a simple function (pain afflicts and releases, love deceives and relieves, losses enhance) or exists on a single plane. The most complex phenomenon is language, which both links and obstructs and is at once greater and less than the things it points to (""We make a word of flame that flame can burn""). Moss demonstrates this ambiguity as much as he talks about it, for much of his meaning depends on what Richard Howard calls ""the innate wisdom"" of our speech -- e.g., the double meanings of light, fall, to lie, and such homonyms as morn/mourn and heir/air. Puns, repetitions and insistent rhymes are mainstays throughout, but the vital cosmic balances they initially suggest give way, in later poems, to tensions of relationship and distance in specific time. Duality remains, but it is increasingly the urban present versus the timeless, with only a far, uncertain prospect of ultimate harmony. Along with a generous sampling from all Moss's previous volumes there are seven new poems whose stylistic diversity may presage a new variation on the theme -- or possibly a new theme?

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1971
Publisher: Atheneum