Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, January 20, 2008

The word "nostalgia" sometimes has pejorative implications, but like its cousin "sentimental," the term can be approving as well as disapproving -- depending upon who is talking and about what. Most of us feel it occasionally: a wincing yet pleasurable return to what once was familiar, now remote.

With his delicate, virtuoso rhythms and his brooding but good-humored poise, Charles Wright is well equipped to evoke nostalgia while holding it up to a cool light with gentle amusement. In section 15 of his recent book Littlefoot, Wright ponders his own nostalgia: You still love the ones you loved

back when you loved them -- books,

Records, and people.

Nothing much changes in the glittering rooms of the heart.

Only the dark spaces half-reclaimed.

And then not much,

An image, a line. Sometimes a song.

Car doors slam, and slam again, next door.

Snow nibbles away at the edges of the dark ground.

The sudden memory of fur coats,

erotic and pungent,


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