Boy in the Well: And Other Poems

Boy in the Well: And Other Poems

by Daniel Mark Epstein

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Epstein (Young Men's Gold) has two focusses in this short collection that tend to obstruct rather than enhance each other. There are domestic poems that deal with family members, children, a professor, a student. These are proficient, but, like the boy of the title poem, seem lost in the larger context of their surroundings. Limiting their light are higher-browed pieces that deal in ancient mythologies and interpretations of objets d'art, e.g., Vivaldi's ``Four Seasons'' and the paintings of Chagall. These poems do not reinvent the original works so much as invite the reader to revisit them. The best treat in this poet's bag is his keen sense of word placement. Besides a nicely honed and haunting sestina that could trigger any son's angst (``The Inheritance''), there are several sestina variations where repetition of key words or ideas click in the heart, providing the sensation of an epiphany without the actual experience. (July)
Ray Olson
Epstein's poetry inhabits a world full of gods and portents, like that of the classical poets of Greece, Rome, and Israel whose legends and attitudes he repeatedly rehearses and recalls. Yet as in so many classical stories, Epstein's gods and portents are ambiguous: when his son is wakened by an owl, Epstein remembers that the bird's song has been "known for centuries as an omen of doom" but can see that for the boy the raptor may be "the kind prophet of a strange new wilderness." Such double-seeing characterizes all these poems, and, refreshingly in these brutal and cynical times, justice and mercy inform them: in the final poem, a teacher tells his class that the love stories he knows "end in heartache, or death," to which a daydreamy student replies, "Tell us a love story anyway / And stop before it is over." In regular meters and startlingly frequent rhyme and conventional forms, Epstein tells many stories that, even when they are over, remain loving.

Product Details

Overlook Press, The
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3.91(w) x 6.68(h) x 0.47(d)

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