Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in | 0 comments

In “A Cedar Box” the poet Robert Nathan cuts below and rises above the material, achieving an illumination beyond fact.

 

A Cedar Box So I go forward to queen’s three, And in to break the bishop’s might; The master plays it skillfully. The game is over, then? Not quite. The adversary moves, and I Avoid . . . I hope the master knows How near he came to losing me. Once more against the wooden foes In angles and in oblique ways — Though I grow weary of the blows Of pawns, and disappointing shocks. And wonder sometimes what the game Is for, and who it is that plays So grimly, since the end’s the same — A closed and quiet cedar box.

“The verse of Robert Nathan, of which this is a second collection, will come as no surprise to those who already know and appreciate his exquisite prose. The point of view that informs both is the same, for Mr. Nathan is all of a piece, and that piece is of enchanted weave. He is the gentlest of cynics, the most playful of pessimists.”

New York Times