"Peter Davison, for years, has pondered with clear insight the perspectives of affection, attachment, loss, and memory, his language spare and his tone classical and deceptively quiet. The poems of this new collection look at the same world with surprise and speak of it with a startled and startling freedom, feeling 'entitled to / the liberty of breathing easy'--a freedom that brings with it the old clarity and eloquence."
--W. S. Merwin
The poems in Peter Davison's exuberant new collection contemplate the paradox of growing old--of having a mind still "a juicy swamp of invention" in a body beginning to falter.
Both intimate and generous, these poems celebrate the cycle of the seasons, of death and rebirth: snapping turtles lay their eggs and new ones hatch; a ruffed grouse drums his spring mating dance. Memory is central: a mother's lost face; a father's voice that "plumbed the marrow of poetry as tenderly / as if a darling had crept into his arms"; a wife's "rueful eyes, cornflower blue." And the poet pays tribute to the literary life--to reading, to the precise moment a word rises to consciousness, to getting over Robert Frost, to the mind of Sylvia Plath.
These are poems that expand time for us and deepen place, whether Davison is taking us on a path along a limestone cliff under canopies of holly and ivy, or is revisiting the instant while recovering from surgery when it becomes clear he is going to heal. "To learn poetry," Davison writes in his foreword, "we need to take poems into our breath and blood, and that requires us to hear them as we read them, to learn to read with all the senses, especially with the ear." Breathing Room gives us a splendid array of poems that we want to read with all our senses.