Columbarium

Columbarium

by Susan Stewart

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Overview

In her long-awaited fourth book of poetry, Susan Stewart gives us a series of splendid, numinous poems about truths learned with the mind but set free through the senses. Modeled on the seventeenth-century practice of century forms, or books of one hundred pages, Columbarium expresses the bond between the living and the dead in voices of parent to child, lover to beloved, and mortal to the gods. The book arrives as a meditative gift from one of our most respected poet-critics.

Stewart frames her Columbarium with four poems paying homage to the elements—to their destructive and creative aspects and to their roles in the human and more than human worlds. Both nest and crypt, the book's center holds an alphabet of "shadow georgics," poems of instruction and doubt that link knowledge and the unconscious. Questions of mortality, of goodness and suffering, and of the fragility and power of memory animate these poems. In one poem an apple calls the narrator back from the dead to sample the many varieties of its fruit and to savor the echoes of those varieties in myth and literature. In another, the seeds of a pear tree reveal the essential unity that makes the diversity of existence possible.

Stewart's Columbarium is both a memorial to the dead and a testament to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226774442
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Series: Phoenix Poets Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 132
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Susan Stewart is a professor of English at Princeton University and a former MacArthur Fellow. She is the author of three previous books of poetry, most recently The Forest, published by the University of Chicago Press and winner of the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Atheneum for 1995. She has also written several books of literary and art criticism, including Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, which won the Phi Beta Kappa Society's 2002 Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism and is also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
IThe Elements
Sung from the generation of Air3
Drawn from the generation of Fire12
IIShadow Georgics
Apple23
Bees28
Braid30
Cross/X34
Dark the star36
Ellipse37
Forms of Forts42
Let me tell you about my marvelous god45
Two Brief Views of Hell46
shadow/Isaiah48
Jump51
Kingfisher Carol52
Lightning54
shadow/Lintel57
What You Said about the Moon58
Night Songs59
Now in the minute64
O68
Pear69
The History of Quiver71
Rewind74
The Rose78
Scarecrow80
The Seasons83
shadow/Shadow84
From "Lessons from Television"85
These Trees in Particular88
Unless and Until90
Lost Rules of Usage93
Vigil95
Weather96
Wings100
X/Cross102
To You and For You103
Zero106
IIIThe Elements
Wrought from the generation of Earth109
Flown from the generation of Water113
Notes121

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