This generous selection of Mona Van Duyn’s distinguished, award-winning work spans four decades. Beginning with her classic Valentines to the Wide World (1959), encompassing the intimate voice of Bedtime Stories (1972) and the moving Letters from a Father (1982), crowned by the life-spanning Firefall (1993), Selected Poems reacquaints us with a poet whose ear is keenly tuned to the music of nature and human conversation. In lively and varied forms, from her minimalist sonnets to her magisterial longer pieces, Van Duyn captures a multiplicity of worlds within her world, in a tone inflected by both Midwestern pragmatism and a deep metaphysical intelligence. As she contemplates the act of reading in bed, a Rhenish sculpture in the Cloisters, or the loss of her mother, the poet goes beyond context to discover consciousness: an expression of the larger ideas and emotions—finally, the art—in the smallest details of our lives.
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