A Gilded Lapse of Time by Gjertrud Schnackenberg
New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992. Inscribed by Gjertrud Schnackenberg. First edition. Hardcover. 143 pages ; 21 cm. $19.00 dust jacket. Gift inscription on the front free endpaper. No other markings within this book. Binding is firm.
This work of spiritual imagination appears seven years after Gjertrud Schnackenberg's second book, of which Nadine Gordimer wrote that it contains poems that move me in a way that I don't really think I have experienced since I first read Rilke at sixteen or seventeen." A Gilded Lapse of Time is in three sections: the title sequence, surrounding a visit to Dante's tomb in Ravenna; "Crux of Radiance," a series of poems exploring the making and unmaking of the image of God in scenes from the Passion narrative; and "A Monument in Utopia," about the destruction of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam at Stalin's hands. Setting legends of the Creation against history's record of catastrophe, setting acts of miraculous art-making against themes of God's world-making, these poems search out the relationship between poetry and history, the ways they haunt one another, and the guilt that poetry and history share in one another's unfolding. Her treatment of the themes of human and divine handiwork, of earthly and celestial love, of faith and refusal, of oblivion and remembrance, attains to an incandescent vision of the past as a realm that lies before rather than behind us.
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