SADNESS AND HAPPINESS: Poems by Robert Pinsky


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You may not be able to tell a book by its cover, but beware the title. This poet, for all his credentials (he's published in various prestigious ""little magazines"") never uses a metaphor when a lazy simile can be found, writes five words where one would suffice, and avoids new descriptions when old ones can be recycled (""shrewd Odysseus""!). He apostrophizes (""Soul, one's life is one's enemy""), he personalizes (""The sky reaches down""), he lists, he repeats, he lists, he repeats. . . like a good professor, he never says something once. The devices apart, he is irretrievably banal: ""I am quite sure that I have read somewhere/ That the rate of suicide among psychiatrists/ Is far higher than for any other profession.// There are many myths to explain such things, things/ Which one reads and believes without believing/ Any one significance for them--as in this case,// Which again reminds me of writers, who, I have read,/ Drink and become alcoholics and die of alcoholism/ In far greater numbers than other people."" No illumination, grace, or wit (one fine exception, ""The Destruction of Long Branch""), merely line divisions of ""sentences too flat for any poems.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press