John Hollander's "Blue Wine and Other Poems," his first collection of verse since the appearance of his new and selected poems, "Spectral Emanations," shows one of our best poetic craftsmen in America moving into a new phase in his distinguished career.
Poems on painting and sculpture, in which Hollander examines the static/dynamic interaction of life and art, are balanced against a graceful lyric cycle, which is itself a commentary on the meaning of art songs. The longer poems in this volume—"Blue Wine," "Monuments," "The Train," and "Just for the Ride"—move beyond Hollander's unique blend of meditative elegance, closely observed detail, and learned wit. They explore even further the realms of mythological vision beyond the boundaries of easy irony.
Of the title poem, "Blue Wine," Hollander writes, "I visited Saul Steinberg one afternoon and found that he had pasted some mock- (or rather, visionary) wine labels on bottles, which were then filled with a substance I could not identify. This poem is an attempt to make sense out of what was apparently in them."
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