In Charnel Rose, Conrad Aiken takes the plunge into a deeply metaphysical and surrealistic world, capturing the essence of one aspect of quintessential humanity: how we create and pursue a deeply personal, intensely idealistic, physically and emotionally draining search for love, and how some of us turn away from real love when we do find it, preferring instead to re-invent and re-amplify our idealistic vision of passionate perfection. He does this through an amazing combination of highly imaginative imagery conveyed through strikingly simple and beautiful poetry, musically complex....
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In Earth Triumphant, Conrad Aiken's first major book of poetry, he took on a significant subject: What is the ultimate source of the human spirit? When the young human spirit loves, rages, strives, plays, where does that energy come from? When the old human spirit sees that time has passed and death is coming, where does that spirit find rest?
Conrad Aiken was fascinated throughout his early work with the image of a tempestuous, romantic young man who tears himself away from his wife, his first love, and from a pastoral, peaceful life in a rural setting, to pursue what he hopes will be a richer, fuller, more rewarding life in a great city. In this book, Aiken explores this theme in full, especially in the final long poem, "Dust in Starlight", which also forms Part III of his trilogy, Earth Triumphant.
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.