Ghost Volcano: Poems

Overview

Here in her beautiful and brilliant new collection, Sandra Gilbert collects the poems she wrote in memory of her husband's unexpected and inexplicable death. "Widow's Walk," the book's centerpiece, charts the poet's journey through the stages of grief, from the bleak moments when her lost love seems massive as a ghost volcano, "dead/and gigantic and frozen in reproach," so that there is "nowhere/you are not, nowhere/you are not not," to the tenuous instant when she realizes that she must "send you forth ... ...
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Overview

Here in her beautiful and brilliant new collection, Sandra Gilbert collects the poems she wrote in memory of her husband's unexpected and inexplicable death. "Widow's Walk," the book's centerpiece, charts the poet's journey through the stages of grief, from the bleak moments when her lost love seems massive as a ghost volcano, "dead/and gigantic and frozen in reproach," so that there is "nowhere/you are not, nowhere/you are not not," to the tenuous instant when she realizes that she must "send you forth ... musing and lit with your own past toward the unimaginable ice cliffs, / south of the south." At the same time, in longer and more formal worksespecially the two ambitious sequences "Notes on Masada" and "Water Music" - Gilbert seeks both to elegize her husband and to understand his death in public, political, and philosophical contexts. Ghost Volcano is a tender, courageous, loving, and ultimately universal account of how we endure grief.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gilbert (Emily's Bread) gathers her poems written in memory of her husband whose sudden death in 1991 she chronicled in prose in Wrongful Death (Norton, 1995). The lyric poems of the sections titled ``Widow's Walk'' comprise a dated, chronological narrative in which she tracks the stages of grief, closely considering personal and philosophical aspects of loss in each. In the first of these poems she and a friend fly over ``the grooved grim face'' of Mount Rainier: ``My husband's face, I told her. Dead/ and gigantic and frozen in reproach...a mirage on the horizon:/ ghost volcano.'' These poems, all tied to Gilbert's specific experiences of mourning, come in groups separated by four less clinically self-aware, wider-ranging and more forcefully emotional elegaic works. In one of these, ``Notes on Masada,'' Gilbert addresses her husband's Jewish heritage during a visit to Mea Shearim. Reminded that she's not Jewish, Gilbert replies: ``I know. I know a Jew must be born/ from the mother, from the bloody/ flesh: the zealots wouldn't/ have bothered to strike me dead-would they-/ at the hot top of Masada.'' Vulnerable, bitter and courageous, Gilbert confronts grief directly-and endures. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393037838
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

October 6, 1992: Seattle, Looking for Mount Rainier 17
and the fields inside it 21
My mother in the four by seven 22
No. No doubt 23
They were kissing the corn god, you say? 24
But no again: my mother's kiss 25
October 26, 1991: Outside Saratoga Springs 29
October 29, 1991: 4 PM, outside Saratoga Springs 30
December 21, 1991: Berkeley Solstice 31
January 30, 1992: On the Beach at Santa Barbara 32
February 11, 1992: At the Art Institute of Chicago 34
April 17, 1992: The Good Friday Spell, by the Pacific 36
May 3, 1992: On the Surface 38
May 15, 1992: On the Road Again, 101 N, Listening to C & W 40
May 22, 1992: Wagner's Birthday 42
June 11, 1992: Nursing Home, Framingham, Mass. 44
June 15, 1992: Widow's Walk, Harpswell, Maine 46
All night, every night, those old stones 51
In a battered Volvo, driving through the German Colony 53
We poke through the 2000-year-old storerooms 54
I confess: I hate religion 55
The head of the eggplant cracks open 56
We quarrel in our California kitchen, eating porkchops 57
By the Dead Sea, its turquoise scales 58
I'm not who I am. Bless you! 59
Beyond the archaic bathhouse, the storage room, the 60
And what about the mysteries of Cana? 61
What about, as our son put it, the absolute 62
The shadows of the Church 63
Mount Scopus. A lavish lunch at the university 64
September 5, 1992: New Hampshire, under the Woods 69
September 7, 1992: Labor Day in the Woods, outside Peterborough 70
September 10, 1992: Picking Wildflowers in New Hampshire 71
November 26, 1992: Thanksgiving at the Sea Ranch, Contemplating Metempsychosis 73
The Nature of Water 77
The Water Goddess 79
The Character of Water 81
The Ice Cubes 83
Hard Water 85
Brine 87
The Water Table 89
The Lake 90
Rain 91
March 14, 1993: Berkeley: Trying Not to Think of a White Bear 95
March 22, 1993: Puerto Vallarta, Sierra Madre/Baya de Los Banderos 97
Spring Equinox, 1993: Puerto Vallarta, Playa de Los Muertos 98
Calla Lilies 101
December 1, 1993: Paris, Looking at Monet 107
February 11, 1994: Berkeley, Anniversary Waltz Again 109
February 14, 1994: At the Point Reyes Lighthouse 111
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