The Turning contains poems written over the course of 40 years, but most of them are new to this reader. The tone is decidedly elegiac. Almost every poem is a tissue of remembrances, shot through with an abundance of people (mainly poets and artists) and places (mostly European, as well as American). Morley identifies with Rilke's restlessness, never abandoning the myth of the journey, and is never without hope of adventure, even in the most commonplace, mundane context.
While Morley adheres to the stress on the syllable prescribed by her fellow Black Mountaineer Charles Olson, she always remains a highly accessible poet. Her poems often begin with a stated thing, a physical object--say, a postcard. But then she will move far from her putative subject, using it instead as a frame for a series of interlacing, interloping lyrical digressions. At the same time, Morley is always a preeminent musician. The moment you "hear" one of her poems on the page, you can't help but note the rightness of pitch and tone. Here, for example, are a few lines from "For Carrington":
Just now at Montauk Point, I saw kites shaped like birdsHilda Morley envisions a reciprocity with the world. In The Turning, she writes in gratitude for the privilege of having lived, of having been a guest at this banquet. --Mark Rudman
flying over the sand & thought of you, Carrington,
how you once made a "lovely owl-kite" at your house in
What can this be?
Cried the rook in the tree
An owl in broad light
or is it a kite?