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Book Critics Circle Award, contains "Mutilated World" and numerous other examples of Zagajewski's more recent work. Gone is the angry edge of Zagajewski's early activist days, when his poems gamed fame for a kind of naked honesty, an uncanny abUity to expose poUtical and social subterfuge and the falsity of "official language." Most of the poems in this coUection instead demonstrate a continuing growth in Zagajewski toward the meditative lyric, the constant questioning of the biographical-existential role of the protagonist of lyric poetry, and a praise for Ufe viewed in its changeabiUty, its pulsation, its ambiguity. Indeed, though perhaps not surprisingly considering his long exUe from Poland, Zagajewski's most successful poems here are told in the voice of a traveler-protagonist, a social outsider writing invariably from within a tram or plane, hurriedly, observing the world outside as best he can. Poems such as "The Churches of France," "To Go to Lvov," "Over America," and the exceUent "Watching Shoah in a Hotel Room in America" work as poetic snapshots, capturing perfectly (as strangers have a tendency to do) both the unexplored hypocrisy and the forgotten beauty of the society surrounding him. Less successful, to my ears at least, are "That Force" and "The World's Prose," poems in which the writing of poetry becomes a sometimesforced metaphor for a larger, indescribable something. Lines such as "The force that grows/in Napoleon's dreams/and teUs him to conquer Russia and snow/is also in poems," or "The prose of Ufe spreads out around us,/whUe poetry crouches in the heart's chambers," seem too seU-referentiaUy easy, too much Uke cheerleading for the art form instead of an embodiment of its best points. Furthermore, in this tense poUtical climate, poems such as "Europe Goes to Sleep," which ends with an image of a benevolent America keeping "watch/over the poor mute world," seem almost naively patriotic, dangerous in aU the wrong ways. StiU, the vast majority of these poems are very successful. Readmg this coUection is equivalent to encountering a photo album put together by a skUled photographer at the height of his or her powers. One has the feeling of transcending the mere mimetic, of experiencing subtle yet profound truths. (BM) Reviewsby:JeffStayton, Scott Kaukonen, Walter Bargen, Michael Piafsky, Tom Bligh, Elicia Parkinson, Leslie Wootten, Evelyn Somers, Steve Yates, Brad Summerhill , Bern Mulvey MR Lost Classic The Autobiography of a Yankee Mariner: Christopher Prince and the American Revolution Edited by Michael J. Crawford Brassey's, Inc., 2002, 263 pp., $26.95 One of the rarest manuscripts of its kind, Christopher Prince's The Autobiography of a Yankee Mariner provides a new historical perspective on both a country coming of age and—perhaps as importantly—the day-in, day-out struggle of the man 188 · The Missouri Review of the sea in colonial America. Ably assembled and edited by Michael J. Crawford, the memoti was written as a kind of famUy keepsake, something for Prince's descendants through the years to ponder in order to gain a sense of the man and of his time. Prince (1751-1832) began his autobiography in 1806: by then he had been captured and served in the British navy; met and brought food to a manacled Ethan AUen; been infected with and survived "the pox"; fought for his own country; had a successful, albeit tumultuous, run in privateering; and found his reUgious calling, becoming a pious man of God in the Protestant faith, even whUe continuing to Uve and work against a backdrop of violent deeds and violent oaths. It is Prince's constant seesawing between vice and virtue that lends what is probably an unintended theme to these writings —a theme that becomes, finaUy, the dominant one of the book. Prince frequently rebukes himself, and his knowledge that he is doing wrong, even as he does it, is enough to shame aU of us with any awareness in this age of reaUty TV shows and sex at aU costs. "I felt very lonesome, and had to go to Taverns, and spend evenings improperly," Prince writes after he is separated from the woman he loves. Such ignominy. When later contemplating...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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