The Secret Reader: 501 Sonnets

The Secret Reader: 501 Sonnets

Willis Barnstone

Language: English

Pages: 741

ISBN: 0874516609

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Barnstone is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University and a scholar, translator and poet who has written more than 40 books. Suggesting here that formalistic poems "dance in chains" they try to slip, he tests sonnet structures as he uses them. Thoughts are closed mid-line, unusual end-rhymes occur and some of these 501 offerings seem good short poems rather than pure sonnets. Arranged in five groups (History I-V), the poems constitute a "public history and private biography," as Barnstone notes in the introductory material. The personal poems are among its best: of father and brother, two suicides; mother, daughter; places he's lived. His range of knowledge informs powerful social, religious and political commentary as he writes about philosophers, poets (especially but not solely Hispanic and Chinese), death from AIDS, Tibet, a Stone Age mummy found in a glacier and, of course, himself ("Do I hurt? No. I'll be/ a will-less barn stone cool and on my own"). This prodigous effort offers rewards to grazers and those who read the sonnets in order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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