Nadine Gordimer once remarked that Gjertrud Schnackenberg's poems "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, Schnackenberg's third volume, is presented in three sections: the title sequence, concerning 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 the hands of Stalin.
Setting legends of the Creation against history's record of catastrophe, setting acts of miraculous art-making against themes of God's world-making, the poems in A Gilded Lapse of Time 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. The poet's treatment of the themes of human and divine handiwork--of earthly and celestial love, faith and refusal, 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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Published November 1, 1992
by Farrar Straus & Giroux (T).
Literature & Fiction.