Death Tractates by Brenda Hillman

By Brenda Hillman

From the depths of sorrow following the surprising demise of her closest lady mentor, Brenda Hillman asks anguished questions during this booklet of poems approximately separation, religious transcendence, and the adaptation among existence and dying. either own and philosophical, her paintings should be learn as a spirit-guide for these mourning the lack of a family member and as a chain of primary ponderings at the inevitability of loss of life and separation. in the beginning refusing to enable cross, wanting to believe the presence of her good friend, the poet seeks solace in a trust within the spirit international. yet lifestyles, now not dying, turns into the problem while she starts to work out actual life as "an interruption" that preoccupies us with shapes and borders. "Shape makes lifestyles too small," she realizes. convenience finally is available in the assumption of "reverse seeing": that whether she can't see ahead into the spirit international, her buddy can see "backward into this world" and be with her.

loss of life Tractates is the spouse quantity to a philosophical poetic paintings entitles vivid lifestyles, which Hillman was once in the course of writing while her pal died. released through Wesleyan collage Press in 1993, it stocks some of the comparable Gnostic subject matters and resources.

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198); together with the speculation in ‘The Old Fools’ (1973) that ‘Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms / ­inside your head’ (p. 196). And then there is ‘being dead’, in ‘Aubade’ (1977) (p. 208), which recalls a 1949 poem of his, ‘On Being Twenty-six’, where ‘being dead’ leads on to a conclusion which speaks of ‘devaluing dichotomies: / Nothing, and paradise’ (p. 24). Or again, ‘At thirty-one’ (1953), with its admission that ‘I, being neither [rich nor dead], have a job instead’, a poem which confesses to writing letters to women ‘instead of planning how / I best can thrive’, letters which ‘owe / Too much elsewhere’ to be love letters (pp.

A decade later, it might well have seemed proleptic of his current situation. Its Audenesque vision of failure at the heart of ostensible success, its self-questioning and self-contempt, recall the rhetorical questions and reversals, often in a second, internally distantiated voice within the poem’s main discourse, with which Auden concluded many early poems. Even the exclamatory ‘O’ with which the direct reported speech breaks into the narrative in the poem’s sestet is classic early Auden. Twelve poems in The English Auden actually begin with ‘O’, in four of which it issues directly in semi-rhetorical questions, and there are many more such overheated or merely posturing vocatives scattered throughout the body of his early poetry.

The same infolding affects ‘wish’ and ‘desire’, and leads from ‘alone’ to ‘oblivion’. indb 37 18/09/2007 14:39:17 On the Edge of Things: Philip Larkin ‘The wish to be alone’. ‘Being’ in Larkin’s poetry is rarely just untrammelled existence, the ontological present tense. It is usually a matter of being something else and, in the process, adulterated. There is, early, ‘The instantaneous grief of being alone’ (in ‘Kick up the fire’, Collected Poems, p. 285); or, later, ‘happy at being on my own’ (in ‘To the Sea’, p.

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