First Light (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
David Wagoner is a major American poet: That recognition has been growing steadily among fellow poets and critics over the past three decades, during which Wagoner has published twelve volumes of poetry. First Light is the thirteenth and, to date, the finest in a most impressive series. Everywhere throughout this volume Wagoner demonstrates the sharpness of his eye and his mind and the depth and strength of his feeling for the terrors and beauties of the world. First Light is a very generous gathering of poems, not only in number (eighty-seven poems, with new pieces beginning on the same pages where the preceding ones end) but also in the range of poetic forms and strategies, tonalities, and topics purveyed by the poet.
The range, indeed, is extraordinary. Wagoner is a virtuoso. His subjects range from family history (“The Bad Uncle”) to national myth (“The Author of American Ornithology Sketches a Bird, Now Extinct”), from fairy tales in sardonic retellings (“Jack and the Beanstalk”) to almost archetypal encounters with wilderness terrain (“Backtracking”), from exacting observation of animals (“Loons Mating”), of people (“A Woman Standing in the Surf”), and of both (“To a Farmer Who Hung Five Hawks on His Barbed Wire”) to metaphysical conundrums in a lofty strain (“Walking into the Wind”). His...
(The entire section is 1664 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!