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already hissing . . ./[what] they know to the flowers on the dawn curtain." In "After Rain," the final lines offer an important insight into Grennan's view of the creative struggle. He writes of "getting to the other side of turbulence," an indirect reference that stands up much better than some of his other, more seti-conscious comparisons to the process. In "Detati," the book's final poem, the speaker sounds opportunistic, if not possessive, as he describes a hawk's attack on a surprised robin. Though the observation leads him to "understand/how a poem can happen," the effect is that the bird almost seems caged in by the speaker 's attention. Here and elsewhere, a great deal of feeling gets sacrificed from the image. For the most part, however, Grennan 's coUection strikes the right balance . With Bonnard as a model, he shows the mistake of trying too hard to impose harmony on a subject rarely willing, and certainly not deserving, to be tamed. It's a task Grennan accomplishes without falling too often into the same trap himself. (JL) The White Fire of Time by Ellen Hinsey Wesleyan U.P, 2002, 93 pp., $12.95 (paper) EUenHinsey's The WhiteFireofTime deals with theology, with the pursuit of knowledge in aU of its forms and with how that pursuit defines us as human beings. These are certainly ambitious themes, not often found in contemporary American poetry. And despite the repeated biblical references in this new coUection, these are much more than religious poems. Indeed, Hinsey wants nothing less than to create a new cosmology, a mythos with which to resuscitate the old BibUcal stories and imbue them with a new relevancy. Hinsey first burst into national prominence with Cities of Memory, which won the 1995 Yale Series of Younger Poets award. The strength ofthis earlier collection lay initslyric exploration ofhistorical and cultural themes, especiaUy in how the poet's images and voice were used to estabUsh connections between this history and the present. This new collection, however, moves in a markedly different direction . The first prose "Fragment" introduces us to the hero of these poems, the so-called "fragile I." She is a hero in the sense that it is her spiritual journey that becomes the metaphor for the evolution of all moral and ethical human consciousness . This journey is one from innocence to experience, for the I "must be tested"—must have and overcome negative experience—in order to evolve. Poems such as "On the Nature of Things" and "On the Endurance of the Hesh of the World" work then to inform this journey. The hero must "abandon simpUcity and climb the tilted ladder of paradox," as it is only through this movement outward, away from what is safe, that she can find "where the soul is hiding from evU" and reclaim it. WhUe other reviewers have noted, with reason, the resonance of Dante and MUton in Hinsey's poems, one wonders how anyone could read this coUection and not think of Blake. Too many parallels exist to have been The Missouri Review · 193 accidental. Both poets reteU bibUcal stories in a contemporary (though elevated) language, attempting to delineate through this retelling a cohesive, redemptive theology. The necessity of experience to Hinsey's theology, the idea that human salvation arises out of action—both these elements also have correlations in Blake. Structurally, the "Thirteen Aphorisms on the Nature of Evil" is certainly reminiscent of Blake's "Proverbs of Hell," and the various prose "Fragments" are simUar in both construct and theme to a number of Blake's prose passages as well. Hinsey's coUection is anything but derivative, however. Reclaiming one's soul is a central theme, but the path to this is very different than in Blake. The self-awareness that serves as the prerequisite to propermoral and ethical acts can only come through experiencing its opposite, for "only firsthand knowledge ofevU can transform meditation into action." The problem, according to Hinsey, ties in the temptation that evU represents, a temptation strengthened by the love evil "borrows from the heart." Indeed, whUe love, in aU its aspects, is a key element to salvation in Blake's work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 193-194
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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