A POISON TREE and Other Poems by Mercer--Ed. & Illus. Mayer

A POISON TREE and Other Poems

Email this review


Except for the title poem by William Blake, Mayer's selections are all by contemporary or fairly recent poets, though the sensibilities range from Elizabeth Coatsworth to Marge Piercy, from Nikki Giovanni to James Stephens. Mayer avoids anything dense, obscure, or lengthy as well as any of the brief, bright flashes currently fashionable in collections for children. Certainly among the twenty there are several poems worth introducing to a child: Richard Wilbur's ""Boy at the Window,"" for one, and, for those who have missed its many other appearances, Roethke's ""My Papa's Waltz,"" for another. But any variety among the selections is overlooked in Mayer's invariably grave and quiet monotone drawings (sepia or soft black and white), which look good at a glance but are totally lacking in resonance. Off-key on Blake, Mayer is too pensive for Reeve's ""Black Pebble"" and ludicrously self-important with James A. Emanuel's childlike ""Small Discovery"" that giants must cry. Instead of enlarging the text, the pictures serve chiefly to demonstrate that Mayer too can be serious if he so chooses.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1977
Publisher: Scribners