NEW POEMS by Kenneth Rexroth


Email this review


Out there on the West Coast, where Rexroth lives, they are much closer to the (Far) East, both geographically and often times in character too. Rexroth has been influenced by translating Spanish and French poets, and now his own poems also feel the effect of his work in Chinese and Japanese. Like oriental verses, some of these are self-contained objective correlatives, evocative dry-brush paintings with that particular delicacy and deftness of the artist of sensibility. A kind of Karmic circularity is more in evidence as a formal device than repetition or those more old-fashioned conventions of rhyme and meter. The stance of the poet: ""l sit quiet"" -- the Way of that other tradition to hear the faint murmurings of infinity. We like his ""Suchness"" better -- the logical universe makes an appearance as the dead body of an angel. And ""What is substance? Our substance/ Is whatever we feed our angel."" Unfortunately for his admirers, there are only a handful of Rexroth's own meditations. Behind them are renderings of the curt yet un-elliptic erotic sentiments of the modern Japanese poet Marichiko, more translations from the Chinese and several ""Imitations of the Chinese"" (which seem pale next to what Pound could make of the notion of that bastardized fakery). Rexroth, come home.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1974
Publisher: New Directions