LATER by Robert Creeley


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Creeley's strongest work in years--which finds him restored by the humility of age to his greatest advantages as a poet: his sense of tight, muttered fun and his absolute, almost dogging sense of intimate ""honor."" The poems remain vulnerably minimal, but in Creeley's mood of surrender to time, they are less feisty, their glints more harmonious to a central whole. A poem about a beach, ""La Conca,"" achieves great aptness in the smallest space; and when an idiom is called for it arrives with simplicity and in mint condition (the poem ""Night Time"" goes, in full: ""When the light leaves/ and the sky's black,/ no nothing/ to look at,/ day's done./ That's it""). There are some lapses here, surely: ""For John Chamberlain"" is sloppy and congratulatory with sentiment; and the ""I dig""s and other hipsterisms refuse to flush out of Creeley's working vocabulary, as does the Poundian tic of dropped prepositions. But, in the variations of the title poem, the sly humor and relaxation evidenced toward art in ""Flaubert's Early Prose,"" in the well-felt and nobly direct, Montale-like address to an old and favorite aunt, ""I Love You""--in the clarity, in other words, of his retraction (the clue to Creeley, perhaps: his turtleness), there is something moving and shapely. With this volume he reminds us of his importance and his grace as a poet.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: New Directions