WATCHBOY, WHAT OF THE NIGHT? by Turner Cassity

WATCHBOY, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Brevity (compression) may be the soul of poetry as well as of wit, but the extreme compression of many of these poems often makes them very difficult to follow. For one thing, their subject matter is so varied--leaping from place to place (Africa, Germany, Cincinnati, Haiti, etc.), treating of movies, comic strips, time, love, cemeteries--that the rapidly changing viewpoint would give the reader trouble even with a full background of reference. Moreover, many of them are written in rhymed couplets, a form whose basic metronome-beat is not entirely offset by odd rhythms and rhymes (Pola-Negrity; integrity), and which, together with the cryptic and condensed phrasing, often produces a poetry as unemotional and static as mathematical formulae. Yet this highly intellectualized poetry also demonstrates a considerable virtuoso use of words and off-rhymes, and, re-read, is often pleasing for precisely the compression in question. The poems toward the end of the book, in which the formal composition yields to universal moods, have a more general appeal.

Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press