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Beautiful Signor: Poems

Beautiful Signor: Poems

by Cyrus Cassells

A trenchant search for beauty amidst a world ravaged by cruelty.


A trenchant search for beauty amidst a world ravaged by cruelty.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cassells follows up the remarkable balance of beauty and violence captured in Soul Make a Path Through Shouting, 1994, with this sequence of love songs as he imagines himself a modern troubadour traveling with his lover through various Mediterranean countries (Italy, France, Spain, Tunisia, Greece). Dedicated to "Lovers Everywhere," the poems attempt to chronicle ecstasy in an extended series of lyrics that intermingle the stimuli of the environments with an almost epicurean catalogue of the pleasures of love ("in Tuscan niches/ where our bed is green/ or trophy-bright/ in shuttered/ Florentine and Roman rooms,/ your body has become/ my refuge and intoxicant"). Emotions of love so strongly felt challenge poets to transcend the platitudes and clichs that usually accompany their expression. Cassells is not alway successful in this vein, his delicate, forceful language often skirts uncomfortably close to sentimentality: "How brave of you/ to let me peer into your/ one in a million spirit,/ beautiful signor,/ beyond the shield and breastplate/ to boyhood/ places of wounding." Yet, Cassells does often net the joy that is the province of unrestrained love: "And the eyes/ of our hearts are open,/ open to the zones of joy./ Gadabouts,/ under our lids,/ we leap and leap,/ as if we might never/ touch the trampoline again." When his poetics match the rigor exhibited in his earlier collection, the efforts to specify the delights of "love deluxe" come close to conveying the ecstasy his words so persistently attempt to trace. (June)
Library Journal
Poets have been writing about love since poem-making began. Yet they continue to find words that heighten and intensify the experience, as this powerful and splendid volume attests. Cassells writes as an African American living in Rome (and touring other parts of Europe) and profoundly in love: "even my downfalls,/ my cat's cradle compromises,/ even my abysses,/ were my path to you." These poems, many of them delicately erotic, celebrate the mirroring of self in the beloved, the joy of mutuality, the heightened awareness that results from passionate love: "paint my heart the red,/ of a red-winged blackbird." Throughout, Cassells delights in the union of souls. His beloved is an Italian man, the "beautiful Signor" of the title, and their bliss is echoed in their environment: "Now the mountains come close/ with their hint/ of Switzerland, their fresh/ bridles of snow." The union of these two lovers contains a highly spiritual element, a suggestion that one may behold the deity in the person of the beloved ("hold me as you would hold/ the body of Christ"). Cassells is a passionate poet whose poems touch the core of human connection through which can flow union with the infinite. Highly recommended.Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

Product Details

Copper Canyon Press
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5.50(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are Saying About This

Martin Espada
With Beautiful Signor, Cyrus cassells confirms his reputation as a poet of exquisite skill. These love poems are resonant, even haunting, born of an acute sensual awarenes, the images like 'mosaics / clarified by rain.' Cassells evokes ancient ruins and turquoise seas in a song of extraordinary tenderness. Beautiful, indeed.

Meet the Author

Cyrus Cassells, author of four books of poetry, is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked as a translator, film critic, and actor. He has received the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award of the Academy of American Poets and a Lannan Literary Award. Presently he lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches at Southwest Texas State University.

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