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Murehtimatta! smaragdinen: kubisseja rakkaudesta ja kuolemasta.

Murehtimatta! smaragdinen: kubisseja rakkaudesta ja kuolemasta (Lamentless! emeraldine: cubics about love and death), Rakel Liehu's most recent volume of poetry, expands the powers of vision and structure established in Kubisseja (Cubics; 1992; see WLT 66:4, p. 749). Where the earlier verse reduced emotion to its fundamental cubist elements and images, Liehu's intense, light-intensive poems in the 1993 collection portray love and death in even more fragmented, elliptical, and compelling language. The poems shimmer in shards and slivers and splinters of light and color, expressed in language that is vivid and striking but reduced to its most fundamental meaning freed of normal functions.

As in the earlier collection, the slim new volume is divided into small segments comprising from seven to sixteen small poems each. These segments, however, are untitled, except for an enigmatic, clocklike logo of the title in various poses at the beginning of several segments. The grouping of the poems also follows a mysterious inner logic, perceivable to this reviewer in the second section with the initial poem entitled "en route to the illative." In this section Liehu challenges many grammatical, linguistic, and semantic assumptions, but she extends these arguments about language and vision throughout the volume. In one poem Liehu creates striking images which stick like insertions in the interstices of syntax: "lightwhite linens / bright glasses overturned in the dark / deaf verbs / bindwords / loose."

The real pleasure in reading Liehu's poetry lies in the very lilt and image and disjunction of her language, which seems to be distilling a poetry not of experience but of essence and existence. Her poems are "A journey / in truth / in the idea of truth / in the trust of the idea," but she seeks for expression short of sensual experience. She writes: "Silimitta katson / Kuiskaan suutta" (Eyeless I look / I whisper mouthless). She is a lapidarist of words, reducing language to precise fractals. She compounds emotion with image, producing unique words like unikukkia (dreamflowers) or ilonpaljas (joybare); or she juxtaposes cultural or elemental images, as in "Yo hienosokea" (Night fineblind) or "tulikieli Kristus" (firetongue-Christ). Her use of color is personified, and speakers become vivid colors in her startling palette: "Kultaharma" (Gold gray) or "ruhtinaanmusta" (princeblack).

The greatest pleasure of Rakel Liehu's poetry is what has been left out; she has freed her poetry from the constraints of grammar, of traditional vision, and of time and experience. Her writing is not "time-taut," and it mysteriously avoids that which is corporeal or physical, expressing through fragments of language and vision an intense voicing of the visual and mythical.

Kathleen Osgood Dana Norwich University
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Author:Dana, Kathleen Osgood
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1994
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