Heidegger extolled language as the “house of being” but Peter Weltner in this exquisite and deeply moving new collection finds it “betrayed by lies spouted each moment in every known tongue.” Daring “to be ceremonial” in face of our constitutive dishonesty, Weltner’s poetic craft is revelatory, allowing the singular things of the world to show themselves. Weltner’s temporal horizon is “unbecoming” in two ways. On the one hand, it is the wistful, implacable, and often elegiac flow of time—“Most of the men I knew then have died. Every day I think of them.” And “Why must I leave you, the earth I love?” as even “memory’s streams” are “fated to flow seaward.” On the other hand, these poems enact a powerful unbecoming of time, momentarily halting its flow so that the silent preciousness of the past becomes audible. These are compassionate, appreciative yet doleful epiphanies in which the grace of what has been comes forth as it is also slipping away. “One last, uncertain glimpse of earth is all I ask from dying: to leave the life I love, forgiven and forgiving.”
This is a book to help us with our living and dying in a time of seemingly endless chatter.
Jason M. Wirth, Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University,
author of Mountains, Rivers and the Great Earth: Reading
Gary Snyder and Dōgen in an Age of Ecological Crisis