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Passages

Poems

by Catharine Savage Brosman

64 pages / 5.50 x 9.25 inches / no illustrations

Poetry

  Hardcover / 9780807120491 / April 1996
  Paperback / 9780807120507 / April 1996

“Catharine Savage Brosman’s language succeeds in being at once traditional and modern, temporal and intemporal. Her poems evoke and translate Nature as well as the motions of the body, the heart, and the mind. . . . In her words one finds the flavor of oysters, mushrooms, lemons, asparagus, and artichokes. One meets the fragrance of things, the secrets of beings, and the symbols that they then become for her and for us. Her work is an acknowledgment and a deciphering.”—Jean-Claude Renard Recipient of the Grand Prize for Poetry from the Acadèmie Française

but what we know most keenly is desire, 
and in desire I know the darkness, not 
the life I hear but that which I imagine . . .

In Passages, Catharine Savage Brosman presents journeys between the world and spirit, journeys that share an axis of yearning for a realm as pure as desire. Brosman refracts through metrical virtuosity, historical imagination, and a vision like cleansing light a world alive with coruscating color and sensual textures.

Each line is subtle, quiet, yet breathtaking in its precision, and the spare eloquence of Brosman’s perfectly executed gestures invests with stunning pathos poems such as “Wind”—which reflects a woman abandoned by husband, children, and faith itself—and “Carnival,” in which a lonely aging woman at Mardi Gras muses.

Whether rendering a speaker’s spiritual communion with Mozart, the febrile longings of a woman caught in adultery in French Algeria, or a love letter by Madame d’Epinay (deftly couched in the metrics and tropes of eighteenth-century France), Brosman moves effortlessly from the broodingly intimate perspectives of other eyes, other souls, to the most abstract of aesthetic meditations.

These are poems of wit and passion, poems that beg to be read and reread, and this remarkable collection reminds us again and again of the passages that open into the lives of our imagination. 

Catharine Savage Brosman, who now lives in Houston, is professor emerita of French at Tulane University. She is the author of numerous books of French literary history and criticism, two volumes of nonfiction prose, and seven collections of poetry, including most recently Range of Light and Breakwater.

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