Metamorphosis becomes the way Robertson understands the great old theme of mutability how one season changes into another, how people age and then die, how love flourishes and withers, even how food is transformed from its wild state into delicacy. It becomes an all-encompassing vision of the world, certainly tragic, but touched with an unsentimental poignancy for the precious transformations that pass along the way. It informs even a small poem like "To My Daughters, Asleep":
| Surrounded by trees I cannot name |
that fill with birds I cannot tell apart
I see my children growing away from me;
the hinges of the heart are broken.
Is it too late to start, too late to learn
all the words of love before they wake?
Robin Robertson reads from Swithering and his other collections at Rackham Amphitheater on Thursday, April 13.
[Review published April 2006]