- Published: 2004
- Subject Listing: Poetry
- Bibliographic information: 96 pp., 6” x 9”
- Series: Pacific Northwest Poetry Series
In this extraordinary new collection by distinguished poet Christopher Howell, the opening poem presents us with a spiritual paradox that will echo throughout its pages. The speaker remembers an earlier time of happiness, freedom, and a certain innocence. The poem closes with:
And if he remembers now
he is in love, which is the soul’s condition, and alone
because that is how we live.
"How we live" is the book's major inquiry; its illustration, the poems' major achievement. How do we live, in our dailiness, in our loves, our private and global wars? And, in the face of unbearable grief, how can we live?
Christopher Howell is the author of seven previous books of poetry, most recently Just Waking. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Helen Bullis Prize, the Washington State Governor’s Award, and fellowships from the Artist Trust and the Oregon Arts Commission. His work has three times been awarded the Pushcart Prize. He is professor of English and creative writing at Eastern Washington University and senior editor at Eastern Washington University Press. He lives in Spokane.
When Keats, at last beyond the curtain
of love’s distraction, lay dying in his room
on the Piazza di Spagna, the melody of the Bernini
Fountain “filling him like flowers,”
he held his breath like a coin, looked out
into the moonlight and thought he saw snow.
He did not suppose it was fever or the body’s
weakness turning the mind. He thought, “England!”
and there he was, secretly, for the rest
of his improvidently short life: up to his neck
in sleigh bells and the impossibly English cries
of street venders, perfect
and affectionate as his soul.
For days the snow and statuary sang him so far
beyond regret that if now you walk rancorless
and alone there, in the piazza, the white shadow
of his last words to Severn, “Don’t be frightened,”
may enter you.