View all New York Times newsletters. The closer Gilbert sticks to neutral observation, the better his poems tend to be.
Watching my wife out in the full moon,. Eight years. How fine she is. How hard we struggle.
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The poem resolves into uncertainty, and he knows well enough to leave it alone. She stopped just beyond. I aimed at the stone wall of a vineyard,. I apologized.
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A similar problem extends to the scores of women in his poetry, all of them exactly alike and frequently doing something Passionate or True or Simple. To be fair, any poet whose work inclines toward myth is going to have a habit of turning people into archetypes. Nor is the sense of sameness relieved by formal variety, as Gilbert works a few simple techniques nearly to death. He relies heavily on gerund phrases followed by periods as a drama-heightening method.
Noticing it a little too much. Gilbert at his worst can be like a hermit determined to tell you all about his devotion to solitude and the women beautiful and lonely as stars whom he totally slept with. He believes that poetry is worthy of devotion, that it ought not be subordinated to the things that clutter up day-to-day life.
But neither is he completely wrong. Poets have always been tempted to live poetry, not merely to write it.
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If the work of poets like Gilbert and Jeffers mostly demonstrates that this ambition is impossible, there are still good poems to be found in the demonstration. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser.
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