Casting the body’s vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide.
—Andrew Marvell (1621-78),
Browsing through the poetry section at Borders, I came upon a sole copy of a new book of poems by Fred Chappell, Shadow Box. I have been an admirer of Chappell’s fiction for years, especially his novel I Am One of You Forever (1987), with its delightful, poignant, and sometimes hilarious reminiscences of a boyhood in the western mountains of North Carolina. I was aware of his poetry, too, although I had never delved seriously into it. The first thing I read, opening the volume at random, was this:
Buried in logic, what can you find,
Shackled to flesh, what can you see
About the madcap world beyond.
Of time’s wild timeless mystery?
The poem is a “Duologue” between “Spirit” and “Mind,” with the former’s argument indicated in italics, and the latter’s in regular print. Thus, this was a single poem consisting of two poems, one encased or embedded in the other.
Here, beyond question, is a milestone...