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"Oh how the heart flares," Arnold writes, "and melts like wax spilling over a candle's lip": both the flares, and the excess, find the right voice in this wild second book. A few premises-Persephone and Hades, a "couple from hell" in their underworld; the poet tormented by failed romance in Spain; the same poet, later in life, rapt and overcome by erotic devotion-give Arnold all he needs to construct what might be the strangest and most instinctively powerful poetry book of the season, with sequences neither (quite) lyric nor narrative, but erotic and ever alert. Few who admired the clean forms of Arnold's Yale Younger Poets Award-winning debut, Shells, could have predicted the delayed depth charge of this explosive second book, motored by vividly earthly language and disguised philosophical sophistication. Arnold also shows a gift for situation; a few over-the-top bits don't diminish this book's emotional power. The domicile of Hades "is never warm never enough room," and Persephone "sits all day beside the window holding her breath." In the collection's later, happier sequence, Arnold records "all the speechless gestures of admiration/ of those early in love who aren't yet/ careful to say so much and no further." Arnold, by contrast, nearly says it all. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.