Now the Green Blade Rises

Overview

"Spires is a jewel of a poet, never self-conscious or self-indulgent."—Los Angeles Times
Opening with a powerful sequence of poems about her mother's death, Elizabeth Spires writes about the life-and-death matters of midlife: the separation of parent from child, the loss of family and friends, the evolving nature of our closest friendships. These poems find hope in the seasonal and spiritual moment when "the green blade rises."
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Overview

"Spires is a jewel of a poet, never self-conscious or self-indulgent."—Los Angeles Times
Opening with a powerful sequence of poems about her mother's death, Elizabeth Spires writes about the life-and-death matters of midlife: the separation of parent from child, the loss of family and friends, the evolving nature of our closest friendships. These poems find hope in the seasonal and spiritual moment when "the green blade rises."
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“[Spires's] elegiac poems are the epitome of grace: polished, elegant, and timeless. Adept at form, she uses rhymes tenderly, almost longingly, as though she wishes she lived in a world where such balanced beauty wasn't so rare. Shades of Frost, reflections of Dickinson, even imitations of Poe place Spires in a solidly American tradition.”
Washington Post Book World
“Spires is routinely compared to Elizabeth Bishop, and with good reason.”
Washington Post Book World
Spires is routinely compared to Elizabeth Bishop,and with good reason.
Publishers Weekly
The death of the poet's mother occasions this fifth collection's opening sequence, a mixture of narrative pieces and sentimental lyrics, which generally depict a world flattened and bleached by grief: "Whiter than music, whiter than bone,/ whiter than ivory, whiter than hope,/ whiter than prayer, whiter than a name// ....Now, after too many white words,/ I stumble and touch branches heavy/ with ten thousand blurred white petals." In another poem, the speaker, lying despondently on her bed, describes at length a "white curtain, sheer/ as a soul, lifting in the wind..." and concludes, "I watched and could do/ nothing as the curtain rose and fell." In their simplicity, nostalgia and formal leanings, Spires's poems can work as a sort of methadone for readers addicted to Elizabeth Bishop's dark meditations on single objects or abstractions; Spires's "Silence" or "Bruise" or "Grass," attempt Bishopian set pieces of memory and inner life. When it comes to love and the passage of time, Spires, who has also written four books for children, runs the gamut from "the sighs/ and crooning of a newborn child,/ bright syllables strung, like beads/ on a string, into meaningless meaning" to "the center of a vacancy that is the center/ of the new." Flying home after a sister's wedding, one speaker describes how she "carried the roses home,/ your wedding roses, ivory and cr me" and "buried my face / in the flowers of memory, inhaling deeply." In "Curio," one of the book's final poems, the speaker walks on the beach collecting objects, "picking and choosing,/ making the worthless precious," while "wave upon wave, the memories/ come." While readers may link these tokens to the flowers and waves of their own experience, they do not quite add up here on their own. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393324853
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Spires is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Now the Green Blade Rises and The Wave-Maker. She lives with her husband and daughter in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches at Goucher College.
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Table of Contents

The Cabin 13
Dogwood 17
Reprieve, Reprise 19
Cemetery Reef 21
White Curtain 23
Ghazal 25
Riddle 26
My Mother's Doll 27
"Chapel in the Woods" 29
Anamnesis 31
Now the Green Blade Rises 33
Two Chairs on a Hillside 37
Infant Joy 40
The Rose 42
The Faces of Children 43
The Daughter of Snow 44
Flight Back 45
I Dreamed a Dream 46
The Frame 48
Like Water 49
1999 50
The Beautiful Day 52
Above the Pagoda 57
Two Characters in Search of a Metaphor 59
The Papermaker 61
Bruise 63
Silence 65
Grass 66
Triptych for Three Tenses 67
Curio 68
Rocko 70
A Dream of Water 72
"In Heaven It Is Always Autumn" 73
Notes and Dedications 75
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