The poems in Toward inhabit the landscapes and seascapes of the wild southwest of Ireland, the islands of America’s Pacific Northwest, the poet’s home in Massachusetts, and then round again, back to the land north of Dublin. Moira Linehan’s eye and imagination capture lyrical, sonic, and imagistic details of these places. So, too, their embedded history: the Famine, the days of the whaling industry, and the speaker’s paternal genealogy are all woven in.
“Somebody we’ve all heard of once turned water into wine. With this project it’s more like turning vinegar into arsenic. In the first place, most everyone on the translation committee arrived with suspicions. And those suspicions were quickly confirmed.”
“EARLY IN HIS ADULT LIFE, Peter Paul Rubens, the famous painter—though he was not yet famous at the time—took a trip to Italy with his apprentice Deodat del Monte. Rubens had been living in Antwerp with his mother. He wasn’t born in Antwerp, he was born in Siegen, in what is now Germany but was, at the time, not the unified country that it is today. Rubens was born in the time before nation-states as we know them existed. Before the French Revolution, before Bismarck, before Napoleon. Rubens was born in Siegen because his father had been in prison there, or thereabouts. That’s another part of the story we’ll get into later, the arrest and near execution of Rubens’s father.”
World Without End, Claude Wilkinson’s fourth poetry collection, takes its title from the last words of the Gloria Patri. But the preceding words—“as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be”— also echo the book’s overarching theme: the seemingly infinite spiritual implications woven throughout our experience in the natural world.
“Yes, it is true: I knew John Milton. I let the words stand on the page, the ink still wet. It has taken me all of three weeks to find the courage to write this letter…”