My Noiseless Entourage (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The images evoked by the title of Charles Simic’s newest collection of poems, My Noiseless Entourage, serve as an effective introduction to this book, suggesting the silent, perhaps even invisible followers that haunt many of these poems. Such presences will seem familiar to readers of Simic’s earlier work; they could appear in many of his settings, silent except for their breathing witness to things which can scarcely be named. Simic’s readers have often noted a sort of central European sensibility in his work; part of that sensibility rises from the vague sense of threat such noiseless watchers create.
Often Simic’s poems hint at violent events which are about to take place just outside the viewer’s sight. “Shading Exercise” from the first section of this volume sets a typical scene. It begins with a sun-baked street on which a child plays, alone except for his shadow. Indoors, his parents sit in a darkened room in a house where the cellar stairs are rarely used anymore, the speaker says, as if they have earlier been put to some unspeakable purpose and now must be avoided. When evening’s shadows arrive, they are “like a troop of traveling actors dressed to play Hamlet [pr. c. 1600-1601],” a play by William Shakespeare marked by unspoken suspicions, madness, and death. In the poem’s last quatrain, the speaker...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
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