The poems in Night Mowing find their influence in the natural and the erotic; the biblical and the classical; the aesthetic and the spiritual. The landscape exists as both an ecstatic source of inspiration and as an endangered garden, and the narrator of these poems moves through that landscape in admiration and anguish: trying to preserve his joyful innocence while fully aware of the transience of all that he sees. Each poem in its specifics, whether focusing on a lover, a mountain, a dog, or a critic, wrestles with the universal and sacred, revealing the instinct of the poems to move toward purity and deep feeling even in dark times.
Chard deNiord sees daily life in terms of eternity and interprets it in a modern rendition of the language of the Biblical psalmist, the language of intelligent and controlled ecstasy. In Night Mowing, deNiord seeks to live totally in the moment but with an abiding sense of the eternal, like the bird in his beautiful lyric 'To Hear and Hear,' which sings 'the same sweet song / again and again in the understory'. The result is terrific poetry.
At times narrative, at times pure song, these lyrics take the bucolic for their territory and trace the regular rhythms of season, day, the human pulse, and life span. Spiritual and primal worlds meet in a space best described by William Empson's late definition of the pastoral, wherein the complex finds expression in the simple and rustic. 'Earth is the right place for love.' Yes, and these poems are beautiful, essential reminders of that truth; boldly they speak to our broken times.
In these marvelous poems, Chard deNiord bears witness to a natural world too readily overlooked in our time. Graceful, evocative, and true, deNiord writes poems like one overturning stones and still capable of communicating wonder and delight in each discovery. His world, in which 'sweetness emanates as a bonus of beauty,' is memorable and compelling.
In narrative drive and metrical control, you'll hear an echo of Frost in Chard DeNiord's new collection, which is as it should be for a New Englander who works the land and for whom memory is a source of conflict and comfort. There's real tonal range here: from humor to high seriousness: but for originality and charge of metaphor, take a look at the beekeeper poems, just the right antidote for Plath's bee poems.
A stupendous achievement.
No matter what may come into the poet's life, he always, by a combination of instinct, belief, and willfulness, searches for unity at least; and often, better, the heartening, heady feeling of redemption and transcendence.
Chard deNiord is the poet laureate of Vermont and author of six books of poetry, most recently Interstate and The Double Truth. He also edited a book of essays and interviews with seven senior American poets (Galway Kinnell, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Jack Gilbert, Ruth Stone, Lucille Clifton, Robert Bly) titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Conversations and Reflections on Twentieth-Century American Poets. deNiord is a professor of English and creative writing at Providence College and a trustee of the Ruth Stone Trust.learn more