The Invisible World Is in Decline Book IX
Publisher: ECW Press
The stunning conclusion to a 40-year poetic project In the tradition of earlier modernist long poems like Ezra Pound’s Cantos and bp Nichol’s The Martyrology, The Invisible World Is in Decline: Book IX is full of startling poetic music and imagery while addressing concerns to which every reader will respond: the life of the heart as well as life during COVID-19, love as well as death, philosophy as well as emotion. The poems are deeply responsive to what an epigraph from Virgil calls “vows and prayers,” i.e., those things that we desire and promise. Like previous books of Whiteman’s long poem, Book IX is largely in the form of the prose poem. But the book also contains a moving series of translations in traditional form of texts taken from songs by composers like Schubert and Beethoven, songs that are by turns tragic, meditative, lyrical, and touching. The concluding section focuses on an obsession that poets have had for 2,500 years: inspiration, in the form of the nine Muses. At the heart of this book is what Whiteman calls “the bright articulate world,” something visionary but accessible to every thoughtful reader.