View Single Post
Unread 10-04-2012, 12:31 AM
Tony Barnstone's Avatar
Tony Barnstone Tony Barnstone is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 692
Default 1. James Wright, The Branch Will Not Break

I've loved James Wright's The Branch Will Not Break ever since I was a teenager. It was one of the books that made me fall in love with poetry. Wright quoted Frost, who said that "If you have 24 poems in a book, the book itself should be the 25th." This is what Wright did in The Branch Will Not Break--he wrote a book in which every individual poem is terrific, but in which they share a symbol system of recurrent images-- the caves, graves, Ohio Rivers, and coal mines where jewels hide in the coal seams, which are the places of death into which we descend in order to be reborn; the horses and mysterious dark women who are spirits of nature meant to usher us into the sublime; the slag heaps and factories and the dead moon that drops its feathers on the desperate Rust Belt; the green butterflies of innocent spring beauty; the ghosts of the massacred Native Americans and slaughtered animals haunting us with the violence of our history; the darkness which is tender and a place of grace; the light which is glaring and that seeks to destroy that tender dark. These gorgeous, difficult poems are surreal, but not senseless--they are based on ideas of the "deep image" derived from Jung, the idea that one must bypass rational thought and dive into the unconscious in order to break through what Blake called our "mind-forg'd manacles." It is a book that rewards dozens of rereadings.

Here it is:

Best, Tony

Last edited by Tony Barnstone; 10-04-2012 at 12:49 AM.
Reply With Quote