Mysterious, brooding, and introspective, Hébert’s poetry is distinctly her own. Her third collection of poetry, Poems, contains the poems of the previously published The Tomb of the Kings. A second section contains a short prose text, “Poetry, Broken Solitude,” and fifteen poems, including the poem “Mystery of the Word.” This poem has a sweeping biblical style and a solemn tone that speaks of possession, belonging, discovery, and beginnings. Whereas in The Tomb of the Kings Hébert evokes death and dispossession, in “Mystery of the Word” she celebrates life and the creative power of the word. Composed of sixteen long lines, “Mystery of the Word” recounts the birth of a primitive society that receives the gift of fire. The fullness and splendor of fire’s horror are revealed to the society.
The text opens in a tranquil landscape, miraculously awakened by enlightening forces that instill in the individual a sense of belonging and magical wonderment. Received by outstretched hands like a sword, this event is an ennobling experience. Odorous arrows, a metaphor describing the fullness of sensuality, inevitably draw the senses to ferns, leaves, flowers, damp wood, blue grasses, and the ambient world, expressed as a musk-laden beast. Colors and sounds, personified, visit this new land in masses while the enchantment of dreams seizes the minds of the innocent.
As if by a curtain rising on a stage,...
(The entire section is 437 words.)