Lawrence Sail’s new collection encompasses a striking variety of subjects. He reflects on detail in the natural world, both in micro- and macrocosm, looking for example at flowers, birds, the sea, the earth seen from space; he explores the intricacies and balances of love and family relationships; he finds new resonances in the paintings of David Bomberg, Howard Hodgkin and Paul Klee, and affinities in his translations of Mallarme, Rilke and Trakl. His imaginative scope extends into a sequence of prose poems responding powerfully to Gabriel Faure’s nine Preludes for piano.
Throughout the collection, close attention to the physical world is paired with the perceptions such careful consideration provokes. Often this embodies a duality – instances of love carry the shadow of grief; a beached boat evokes the horizon; a book is both an object and an emblem of lost authority; the fragment of a Roman carving suggests wholeness restored. Above all, there is in Sail’s writing a celebration of the world, its preciousness magnified by the ways in which he takes the measure of what appears in the title poem as ‘all that lasts, / all that is gone’, the juxtaposition of the transient and the enduring.
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