Randomly Moving Particles: Poems

Univ. of Pittsburgh. Mar. 2021. 120p. ISBN 9780822966555. pap. $17. POETRY
Motion (Coming in to Land) is perhaps best known to readers in the United States as Ted Hughes’s successor to the post of poet laureate of the United Kingdom; he acquitted himself with all possible dignity in that thankless job until 2009. Motion’s output as a poet has been prolific and almost tireless; this latest collection finds him in Maryland, trying to come to terms with his own story and the life of our ailing planet. Motion’s style owes much not only to his avowed inspirations (W. H. Auden, Edward Thomas), but also to the darkly surreal, jolting manner of English-language poetry since the 1980s. The treasure of this collection is the long title sequence, in which Motion throws the shadow of the Aeneid over contemporary events, generating many lines that are at once memorable and unnerving. He is unhesitating in his reservations about contemporary politics and climate change, but the primacy of his craft in poetry is never in question. “Here I am corrupt yet become unearthly innocent”: this, one of the many aphorisms that populate the volume, ably stands for the open, despairing, tenacious figure of the poet.
VERDICT A fine contribution to the ongoing labors of a leading poet, and a good introduction to Motion’s approach for readers new to his work.
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