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This review is taken from PN Review 200, Volume 37 Number 6, June - July 2011.

CHANNELLING GEORG TRAKL CHRISTIAN HAWKEY, Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Press) $17.00

The Georg Trakl most Anglophone readers know is a kind of Deep Image poet. As translated by James Wright and Robert Bly in their Twenty Poems of Georg Trakl (Sixties Press, 1961), the early twentieth-century Austrian poète maudit, so often linked to Rimbaud, wrote highly suggestive nature poems such as 'My Heart at Evening':

Toward evening you hear the cry of the bats.
Two black horses bound in the pasture, The red maple rustles, The walker along the road sees ahead the small tavern.
Nuts and young wine taste delicious, Delicious to stagger drunk into the darkening woods.
Village bells, painful to hear, echo through the black fir branches,
Dew forms on the face.

'The images,' writes Robert Bly in his Introduction, 'have a mysterious connection with each other. The rhythm is slow and heavy, like the mood of someone in a dream.' And James Wright adds 'A single red maple leaf in a poem by Trakl is an inexhaustibly rich and wonderful thing, simply because he has had the patience to look at it.'

Bly, Wright - later Louise Glück, and Charles Wright: theirs is a condensed visionary poetics using concrete, sensuous imagery, 'simple' syntax (short declarative sentences in the present tense), and a slow stately free verse in which the line is equivalent to the grammatical unit. Mystery, lyric intensity, strangeness, animism: no poet embodied these qualities more than did this young Austrian bard. Poor, ...


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