The poetry of Robert Hass displays a range of emotion as well as a thoughtful meditative stance. His openness to the Asian aesthetic is evident in his poems, which offer a keen insight into a fleeting moment. He has acknowledged the influence of the poetry of Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound. Also, influenced by California’s rich natural showcase, Hass makes nature a primary theme in his poetry.
After reading works of Aristotle and Charles Darwin in his great-books course at Saint Mary’s College in California, Hass was assigned to examine nature with field glasses and then write about these observations. This practice of close observation followed by written meditation soon became a pattern for his poetry. In fact, his first collection of poems is titled Field Guide. It introduces precise details of California’s landscape. In “Fall,” he tells of gathering “mushrooms/ near shaggy eucalyptus groves/ which smelled of camphor and the fog-soaked earth.” This sense of smell is compounded with attention to the other senses as well in “San Pedro Road”:
Casting, up a salt creek in the sea-rank air fragrance of the ferny anise, crackle of field grass in the summer heat. Under this sun vision blurs.
The poet continues with...
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