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Mortal World


80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations


  Hardcover / 9780807119839 / October 1995
  Paperback / 9780807119846 / October 1995

“Deborah Pope’s poems have always been singular for an utterly clear focus, a warming light. In Mortal World she has moved far forward, with immense authority, into a whole new realm of perception and narration—a human mind, very like our own, observes its passage through painful discovery and relates its findings in language as keen as a fine blade. I know of very few personal poems that make themselves more broadly available.” —Reynolds Price

As in her first collection, the widely praised Fanatic Heart, Deborah Pope in this new collection continues a journey through a world of deep and fierce attachments. With impressive range, Pope writes of intimate moments with lover and children, of her strong attachment to the natural environment, to meditations on the human face of political upheaval. Sensuous, longing, grieving by turns, the poems of Mortal World are love poems in the widest and yet most intimate sense. They do not hold the world at a distance; rather, they taste, see, touch, and savor the things of the world, human connections chief among these.

These are poems about beginnings and endings, written from the emotional center of experience. In their evocative, widening arc of emotion they trace a path from passionate awakening to ambiguous estrangement to the complicated griefs that can wait at the heart of even the deepest love. Still, they finally reach toward reconciliation, toward a reclaiming of the “province of joy.”

Deborah Pope’s first book, as many critics noted, announced a poet of great promise. That promise is more than realized in the wise and beautiful poems of Mortal World. 

Deborah Pope is professor of English at Duke University.

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