THIS JOURNEY by James Wright


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Wright's last book, completed before his death (at 52) in 1980. As in To A Blossoming Pear Tree (1978), the locales of the poetry here are for the most part exotic: Italy, France, Hawaii, as well as Wright's native southern Ohio. The mood throughout is premonitory and death-sensitive: poems of decaying statuary, gravestones, and--more subtly--one recurring identification with, and alignment of, lizards and lungs (""We breathe light""). In ""Wherever Home Is"": ""I am going home with the lizard,/ Wherever home is,/ And lie beside him unguarded/ In the clear sunlight./ We will lift our faces even if it rains./ We will both turn green."" In these completely ripened poems of mortality, there is a translucence to Wright's plain lines and direct dealing, one equal to the grave and hymn-like best of his earlier work. There's even a bit of complex music, which is otherwise so lacking in his canon: ""One barn them/ Sags, sags, and oozes/ Down one side of the copperous gulley./ The limp whip of a sumac dangles/ Gently against the body of a lost/ Bathtub. . . ."" And ""In Memory of Mayor Richard Daley"" is tantalizingly obscure, becoming perhaps the most memorial--since not quite clear--poem of all. With virtually no trace of Wright's faults (trick endings, side-of-the-mouthings): a full and frequently quite moving final offering.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1982
Publisher: Random House