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Day by Day

By (author) Robert Lowell
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Faber & Faber, London, United Kingdom
Published: 6th Mar 1978
Dimensions: w 140mm h 220mm
ISBN-10: 0571111211
ISBN-13: 9780571111213
Barcode No: 9780571111213

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Kirkus US
That this is Lowell, the reader isn't likely to mistake. Again we're plunked down into the front row for a minute yet elegant witnessing of the poet's painful personal drama: "heightened from life,/yet paralyzed by fact." In this first book of new poems since 1973, an anxious narrative organization begins with autumnal addresses to old friends and wives - poems to Peter Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, Jean Stafford: "Our loyalty to one another sticks like love" - and moves into poems that perch fearfully over the facts of age and death. Then a group, by far the best in the book, about marriage and memory - "Grass Fires," "Suburban Surf," and especially "Seesaw," a jewel-focuses Lowell's imagination and bears it aloft: they're poems of desperation and moving sympathy. The last section deals with the poet's most recent breakdown - "I alone here tonight on Antabuse" recalling the earlier and famous line, "Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother's bed" - and ends with a tone of recovery and ever so slight a shadow of hope. Lowell's insistent method testifies to an integrity beyond facile styling, but all its pocks and pits still stand out. His gravity looks like grace - but truly is it? Too many of the poems have a chewy, sluggard quality; they ruminate only to spit out a seed, usually an epigram - "A man without a wife/is like a turtle without a shell" - and then have trouble starting up again. Perhaps Lowell, in his mood of valediction, has made peace with the entropy that saturates this book. A reader may be less ready to do so. (Kirkus Reviews)