Down from such heights and up from depths beyondmeasure the old ice slowly now quickerthan the stones can hold it knows its path likethe one note of a bird flown beyond usin ages since we've forgotten the windholds us in its heavy sleeves so sorrynow at the pace of our elders' tonguesdown the valley it is going the clockshave stopped it is happy to be finishedalmost there singing the song no one heardthe last time either when the rains began.
“The Telling” from WHALE FALL: by David Baker.
Published by W. W. Norton & Company on July 19, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by David Baker.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
David Baker is author of many books of poetry, recently Whale Fall, published in 2022 by W. W. Norton, as well as six books of prose about poetry. He served for many years as Poetry Editor of The Kenyon Review, where he continues to curate the annual eco-poetry issue, “Nature’s Nature.” Baker lives in Granville, Ohio.
"From the shadow of the garfish to the memory of seabed in Ohio sandstone, nothing appears to be too slight or too immense for David Baker’s powers of lyric transformation. In book after eloquent book, his artistry has become more purely his own: pared down to essentials while refining its scope of generous inclusion. Baker’s method, like his subject, is the fine pulse of human encounter: here in its most distillate manifestation."
"One of the collection’s many achievements, however, is that [its] density of reference never lands heavily. Whale Fall contains voices that fragment and shift pace, but never loses sight of a lyricism so reliable that it feels instinctual... In 2001, [Baker] wrote of 'the moral harmony of nature.' Whale Fall might be the collection that refines and refinds that harmony for the Anthropocene, in which acid rain and microplastics and handholding in a tree are all part of the same music."
—Daniel Shailer , Los Angeles Review of Books
"Baker’s 12th volume of poetry finds him in a wistful, elegiac mood, paying witness to the shared frailties of the natural world and the aging, ailing speaker."
—New York Times Book Review
"The craft of Whale Fall defies. It asserts, for me, a definition of poetry: an unbearable gulf of feeling made indelible by form."
—Diane Seuss , Paris Review