What a bright, engaging, lively intelligence is at play here! In these days of noisy promotion, the quietly self-assured poems of Winter Morning with Crow would seem familiar only if they were louder and more demonstrative, if they had some sort of platform to run on, if they cultivated the grotesque or the fashionably bizarre. But Clare Rossini seems mostly to love the world without sounding particularly foolish about it. Her best poems may be the ones in which she addresses trees and birds as friendly equals, but it is hard to forget “Elegy in Four Parts,” a sadly beautiful set of poems having to do with the stillbirth of a child. These poems are, finally, models of that sort of eloquence which comes mainly from a steady precision of language and observation. Which is never easy.
Winter Morning with Crow, Clare Rossini’s painterly title for this impressive debut collection, suggests how much more pleasure it gives the poet to look than to know. Her intelligence thrives by a wary distrust of itself. Her brain and heart share, rather than contend for, the feast her eye provides for them.
In Winter Morning with Crow, it is Clare Rossini’s consciousness (attentive, prescient, inspired) that makes her miraculous art, makes a poetry so pure and spare, so free of artifice or contrivance, that it seems to reinvent the page. This is poetry that restores to us something we have lost. It returns beauty, and faith in beauty, then reminds us (as the great painters remind us) that we are not meant to possess it-or the objects of our love. The wisdom of these poems is as ancient as Buson’s crows painted against a stark landscape, the whiteness of winter morning. Clare Rossini is, with this extraordinary first book, already a master.