THE WESTERN APPROACHES: Poems 1973-1975 by Howard Nemerov


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What genial company this poet provides. Here's a modest writer who does not presume to play the creator, but gives God his due as riddle-maker and master builder of the universe. Nemerov looks on, wonders, speculates on mathematics, nature and mortality. Three of these poems, for instance, gibe at the hubristic trade of the novelist, who hatches a world that never was, a world ""whose non-being always depends on the next syllable."" The coordinates of Nemerov's ironic metaphysics, on the other hand, are real as they are familiar--the Late, Late Show and football games on TV, the wreckage of autos, the trees in the yard, bowls of flowers on the table, the fertile Inventions of J. S. Bach. Of all these things he makes an order in his slightly academic, deliberately crafted verse. (He offers a lesson in form in his ""The Measure of Poetry"" which makes an analogy between versification and the rhythmic cycle of the tides.) This is Nemerov's ninth book, a forthright and mature collection that's a gracious pleasure to read.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1975
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press