Life & Death (Hardcover)
Author: Robert Creeley
Publisher: New Directions (1998)
If youth asks the mirror, "Am I the fairest?" then age, in Robert Creeley's skillful, ironic, and tender voice asks, "Do you remember me?" And the poems of Life and Death are the mirror's answers: a collage of recollection and salvage, a gathering-in before winter's night.
The first section, "Histoire de Florida," is a partial autobiography at a specific time and place. It captures the poet in an engaged and highly compacted moment that deliberately echoes Wallace Stevens' "The Anecdote of the Jar"––a reverberation from the poet's youth.
The second section of "Old Poems, Etc." contains classic reflections––from the doggerel humor of "'Present (present)'" to parody of early Metaphysical models like George Herbert in "Echo's Arrow." The capstone of this section is the sustained "The Dogs of Auckland" which focuses impressions from an extended time spent in that city and becomes a resume of age and its effects, made vividly objective by the contrasting culture of New Zealand.
Artists have always proved decisive company for the poet, and the third section contains the texts of three collaborations with painter Francesco Clemente. Creeley's intention, as always, is "to keep writing, as Williams said, for the fun of it. What else?"