Reviews

Philosophical Arcs

This lovely chapbook by Catharine Savage Brosman, poetry editor of Chronicles, offers a delightful collection of 20 poems from a small south Louisiana press.  Many of the poems feature familiar Louisiana landscape and avian life.  All in some way address the underlying ties between nature and art, their metaphysical underpinnings: an order perceivable in natural form and in the work of artists.  Mostly in iambic pentameter quatrains with an alternate rhyme pattern (abab), the poems in this 11th volume of poetry by Brosman relate through the symbol of trees, emblems of natural cycles of winter and spring, death and renewal.

The collection opens with “Tree in Winter,” the companion piece to the title poem, the last in the collection.  The two poems use similar form, an order the poet’s vision imposes on her subject and observations.  Yet that order parallels one found in nature, for

The tree’s deep being orders the design

of root and trunk—no alien intent—

well replicated in each texture, line,

and leaf—implicit as the branch is bent.

These images suggest a beauty of form: the frozen maple’s “gestures—sculpted, fixed in place,” a work of art and the ordained form that the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins...

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