Winner of the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in the category of poetry.
In her long-awaited fourth book of poetry, Susan Stewart gives us a series of splendid, numinous poems about truths learned with the mind but set free through the senses. Modeled on the seventeenth-century practice of century forms, or books of one hundred pages, Columbarium expresses the bond between the living and the dead in voices of parent to child, lover to beloved, and mortal to the gods. The book arrives as a meditative gift from one of our most respected poet-critics.
Stewart frames her Columbarium with four poems paying homage to the elements-to their destructive and creative aspects and to their roles in the human and more than human worlds. Both nest and crypt, the book's center holds an alphabet of "shadow georgics," poems of instruction and doubt that link knowledge and the unconscious. Questions of mortality, of goodness and suffering, and of the fragility and power of memory animate these poems. In one poem an apple calls the narrator back from the dead to savor the echoes of its varieties in myth and literature. In another, the seeds of a pear tree reveal the essential unity that makes the diversity of existence possible.
Stewart's Columbarium is both a memorial to the dead and a testament to life.
"[A]s in previous work, it is moments of brief and simple aphorism...that forcefully summarize the book's project." Publishers Weekly
"Deeply disturbing poems of original and unforgettable craft." Maureen Seaton, Boston Review
About the Author
Susan Stewart is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A former MacArthur fellow, she is the author of five earlier critical studies, including Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (2002), winner of the Christian Gauss award of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Truman Capote Award. She is also the author of five books of poems, most recently Red Rover (2008) and Columbarium (2003), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. These titles, along with The Open Studio (2005) and The Forest (1995), are all published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
I THE ELEMENTS
Sung from the generation of AIR
Drawn from the generation of FIRE
II SHADOW GEORGICS
Dark the star
Forms of Forts
Let me tell you about my marvellous god
Two Brief Views of Hell
What You Said about the Moon
Now in the minute
The History of Quiver
From "Lessons from Television"
These Trees in Particular
Unless and Until
Lost Rules of Usage
To You and For You
III THE ELEMENTS
Wrought from the