Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems, Charles Wright

Posted: January 16, 2015 in Book Reviews
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Negative Blue: Selected Later PoemsNegative Blue: Selected Later Poems by Charles Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Charles Wright collection I’ve read. I appreciated the natural imagery, the interesting mix of backyard and international vantage points, the reaction pieces to his reading material. There were many “moments” as I read, and a few full poems that really spoke to me. There were also times when I thought “there’s that arborvitae, again….”

What appeals to me most is the recurrent theme of internal spiritual/religious struggle and Wright’s facility in connecting the natural with the supernatural in a realistic, non-fantastical way–from the recurrent references to the titular “Blue” that ties the Heavens with the Earth (e.g., Blue Ridge Mountains) to the constant use of images of winter-barren plant life. The Man (Adam?) I see throughout this collection is one who, after a youth of religious devotion and fervid expectation, has experienced a life that challenges that Springtime passion. At the end, he sees rather an absent God, one who has lost interest in His creation. But even then, the Man cannot deny God’s existence, though at times it appears that this is his desire. It seems that the essence of God remains, but the Edenic rupture has yet to heal. Throughout the poems, there is a thread of anger, frustration, abandonment, and doubt as to whether that rupture can heal. But always there remains a sense of reality, even if that reality is difficult to put into words; the spiritual/religious elements are rooted in solid ground, not flitting about in ether.

A bit of the poem “Ostinato and Drone” speaks to this:

“It’s reasonable to represent anything that really exists
by that thing which doesn’t exist,
Daniel Defoe said.
and that’s what we’re talking about, the difference between the
voice and the word,
The voice continuing to come back in splendor,
the word still not forthcoming.
We’re talking about the bush on fire.
We’re talking about this quince bush, its noonday brilliance of light.”

This book is not a skimmer. It deserves consideration. My observations are limited by my knowledge of Mr. Wright and my single reading of this collection.

View all my reviews

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