Robert Hass demonstrates once again the unmistakable intelligence and original voice that have won him both literary acclaim and the affection of a broad general readership. Here Hass extends and deepens his ongoing explorations of nature and human history, solitude, and the bonds of children, parents, and lovers. Here his passion for apprehending experience with language--for creating experience with language--finds supple form in poems that embrace all that is alive and full of joy. Sun Under Wood is the most impressive collection yet from one of our most accomplished poets.
Though mostly when I think of myselfAside from sounding an unexpected rhyme, this "navigable sorrow" betrays Hass as a poet of sensibility. What elevates him from preciousness is a powerful need to engage and indulge--to "navigate"--memories of his alcoholic mother and his own painful divorce. Sun Under Wood, in other words, is the book Robert Lowell would have written had he grown up in California. The raccoon Hass confronts in "Iowa City: Early April" seems to have stepped right out of Lowell's "Skunk Hour," but instead of moaning, "I myself am hell ... nobody's here," Hass muses, "That his experience of his being and mine of his and his of mine were things entirely apart, / ...And as for my experience of myself, it comes and goes, I'm not sure it's any one thing...." Such universal emotions are hard to find words for, but throughout Sun Under WoodHass speaks with a clear, disturbing, and urgent voice. --Edward Skoog
at that age, I am standing at my older brother's closet
studying the shirts,
convinced that I could be absolutely transformed
by something I could borrow.
And the days churned by,