Signs of Arrival: Poems
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- Sales Rank:544,867
- Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
- Number Of Items:1
- Shipping Weight (lbs):0.3
- Publication Date:October 1996
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Harrison's second collection (after The Singing Underneath, selected by James Merrill for the 1988 National Poetry Series) displays a mastery of language that is exact and graceful. Observing the natural world, whether in his own backyard or halfway around the globe, Harrison infuses ordinary images (a mayfly on the surface of a lake; a paddle hidden above the front door of a cottage) with significance. The foreign and the familiar embrace in "Household Spirits" when a trip to Thailand conjures a memory of a martin house from childhood and its "flighty utopians, the spirits of that farmhouse/ gathering overhead in buoyant swarms,/ water in their voices, sky on their wings." The strongest poems in the first section visit the terrain of Harrison's youth: hitting golf balls off a bluff, monopoly games beneath the hanging head of an Adirondack moose, learning to guide a canoe. The middle poems, turned to the past and exotic locales (the "Alexander Kinglake" series about a fictitious young Englishman traveling to the East in the 1830s), are presented in a cadence more ornate but also murkier. The poems of the final section return to family life and simpler, leaner language: "I will consider my son William,/ who came into the world two weeks early, as if he couldn't wait;/ who was carried on a river that gushed from his mother;/ who was purple with matted black hair." With buoyant observations of fragile wonders and in a singular, acute and fluent voice, Harrison also announces his own arrival.
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