A bold new collection of poems of feral beauty and intense vulnerability
The poems in Henri Cole’s ninth book, Nothing to Declare, explore life and need and delight. Each poem starts up from its own unique occasion and is then conducted through surprising (sometimes unnerving) and self-steadying domains. The result is a daring, delicate, unguarded, and tender collection. After his last three books—Touch, Blackbird and Wolf, and Middle Earth—in which the sonnet was a thrown shape and not merely a template, Cole’s buoyant new poems seem trim and terse, with a first-place, last-ditch resonance. In their sorrowful richness, they combine a susceptibility to sensuousness and an awareness of desolation. With precise reliability of detail, a supple wealth of sound, and a speculative truthfulness, Cole transforms the pain of experience into the keen pleasure of expressive language. Nothing to Declare is a rare work, necessary and durable, light in touch but with just enough weight to mark the soul.