In Beyond the Chandeleurs, David Middleton completes a long journey home to his native South, his beloved Louisiana, and his Anglican faith. This collection, whose title refers to barrier islands off the Louisiana coast, takes the poet beyond earlier doubts concerning the cosmos and its Creator to a loving trust in Providence often expressed in psalm-like poems that celebrate both the beauty and the rational intelligibility of the natural order of things.
The Louisiana poems—set in the Protestant north of the poet’s childhood and in the Roman Catholic south where he now resides—richly evoke the flora, fauna, geography, and history of the state and also honor family members, including Middleton’s father, who is memorialized in “For an Artist with Parkinson’s.” Other poems, such as “The Yeoman Farmers,” “Dinner on the Ground,” and “Oak Alley,” are meditations on the history of the South that reveal Middleton as a late inheritor of the Agrarian tradition. Indeed, “At Franklin” is in direct response to Allen Tate’s famous “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” to letters on that poem between Tate and Donald Davidson, and to Davidson’s own answering poem to Tate, “The Last Charge.”
With its extraordinary sense of place, artful storytelling, and wide range of verse forms and language,Beyond the Chandeleurs is a volume to cherish.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, David Middleton served as professor of English, Poet-in-Residence, Distinguished Service Professor, Alcee Fortier Distinguished Professor, and head of the Department of Languages and Literature at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Currently professor emeritus of English at Nicholls, he lives in Thibodaux with his wife, Francine. He has one grown child, a daughter, Anna Marie Middleton Conrad.
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