What Spoon River Anthology does for a Midwestern small town, Turns and Movies does for the world of vaudeville. Like Masters, like Aiken: passions, betrayals, secrets, sins, victories, defeats, and inevitable losing struggles against age and death are the stuff of this work. And that's only the first part of the book.
The rest of the book consists of a set of four long poems: "Discordants", "Evensong", "Disenchantment", and "This Dance of Life". In these poems Aiken takes on a subject that strikes home now just as much as it did then: what happens to love when the flame of romance flickers, or even goes out? Aiken's men - he always writes from a man's point of view - make a variety of decisions, but for Aiken, the underlying determinant of all of those choices, for good or ill, is the ongoing, quiet, patient force of life itself: "A light wind blew; the curtains stirred; The east grew pale; a sleepy bird/Sang a few notes, then life was still: A calm, unhurrying, soulless will." Aiken's words may be a almost a century old, but they still speak powerfully today. Enjoy!
(P)2011 Robert Bethune
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