The Clearing

Overview

Revolving around the deaths of the poet’s parents and first wife, The Clearing is a sustained meditation on the nature of love and its transformations. Perpetually dissatisfied with memory and what one poem calls “the falsehoods about death” we tell ourselves, White’s poems turn on emotional openness and probing inquiry. “How moving it is to find a book so haunted by tragedy and death that is, in addition, soberly life-affirming. A clearing is an empty space, but it is also a habit of mind, an act of ...

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Overview

Revolving around the deaths of the poet’s parents and first wife, The Clearing is a sustained meditation on the nature of love and its transformations. Perpetually dissatisfied with memory and what one poem calls “the falsehoods about death” we tell ourselves, White’s poems turn on emotional openness and probing inquiry. “How moving it is to find a book so haunted by tragedy and death that is, in addition, soberly life-affirming. A clearing is an empty space, but it is also a habit of mind, an act of clarification. Philip White knows pain’s truths, the most awful of which is that the dead don’t come back. After such knowledge, he then recognizes that ‘mind-changing sorrow dribbles away.’ His poems record irreplaceable loss, and they also represent one man’s resilience and his ability to feel and love again. The Clearing is a very promising debut.” —Willard Spiegelman “Philip White’s remarkable sequence conveys with great force the emptying of self and world through the loss of a sustaining love, and the grim, gradual outliving of that state. Though anything but metronomic, his poems have a versatile formal strength, and can, for instance, make use at moments of the sonnet’s structure. Even when confronting a world void of meaning, White has an admirable descriptive power, and nothing could be more vivid than these graveside lines from ‘East Lawn’:” First the flowers were thrown, then the earth. I remember the rich incremental dark by shovelful smothering their flaming colors like a cloudbank slowly blotting out stars. —Richard Wilbur

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Product Details

Table of Contents


Introduction     xiii
Cricket     3
I
Wings     7
Daylilies     8
The Minnows     9
Idyll     11
Train a Grande Vitesse     12
Cape Meditations     14
Mesa Verde     16
Where We Are     17
Aubade     18
Threshold     19
II
At Dead Horse Point     23
Sepia     24
Family Prayer     25
From the Country of the Sun     26
Raptor     27
Herb Garden     28
The Roads     29
Heron     30
Movietime     31
III
East Lawn     35
Lament     36
Vine     37
They Rise     38
Red Branch     39
Braid     40
A Muffled Sound     41
Baucis and Philemon     42
Keepsake     43
The Clearing     44
The Fires     45
Veil     46
In the Leaves     47
The Afternoon     48
Solstice     50
Crow     51
IV
Magnolia     55
Dog Days     56
Birdhouse     57
Vortical     58
Fragrant Harbor     59
The Bookstore in Town     60
Geodes     61
Oriole     62
Isola     63
Loving Again     64
V
The Afterlife     67
The Palisades     68
Why Orpheus Looked Back     69
Revenant     70
Cinnabar     71
The Spice Trade     72
Six O'Clock Flight to the Interment     73
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