The author, a Poet Laureate of the United States, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, is a master of metaphor, a poet who deftly connects disparate elements of the world and communicates with absolute precision. Critics call him a "haiku-like imagist" and his poems have been compared to Chekov's short stories. In these poems, the author draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life. Quotidian objects like a pegboard, creamed corn and a forgotten salesman's trophy help reveal the remarkable in what before was a merely ordinary world.
I say this while, at the same time, I would sell my soul for the gift of writing so well. The problem, I think, that poems like these aren't meant to be read in one greedy gulp. One a day is enough... sort of like a Gummy Bear vitamin.
Still, I'm glad I read it, if only for the anonymous quote taken from The Evening Post of May 31, 1865, that Kooser uses to introduce his Four Civil War Paintings by Winslow Homer:"?ÃƒÂ¡ '... if the painter shows that he observes more than he reflects, we will forget the limitation and take his work as we take nature, which, if it does not think, is yet the cause of thought in us."
I'm also prompted to check for myself if there really is "at least one pair [of praying hands] in every thrift shop in America..."
Well, ok, I also liked "Hall of Bones" in which is the observation that man is the only animal "in which throbbed a heart made sad by brooding on its shadow."
And "The Beaded Purse" in which a father, accepting his daughter's corpse after she ran away to the city to be an actress, puts a few bills in her empty purse "for her mother to find."?ÃƒÂ¡ So the mother would not think that the daughter failed miserably, and will feel just a bit of comfort that, maybe, the daughter was finding happiness in her adventure.
Ted Kooser's Delights & Shadows is one of those rare volumes where I wish I had written nearly every poem within. With few exceptions, each poem has just the right imagery and just the right, quiet word to explode like a milkweed pod into a fertility of grace and meaning.