Flower Wreath Hill
Poetry by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth’s Flower Wreath Hill: Later Poems combines two earlier volumes, New Poems (1974) and The Morning Star (1979) to keep available the late lyric and elegiac poems and translations of a writer who is finally being recognized as “a poet of the first rank” (World Literature Today) and “a quintessential American author” (Los Angeles Times). The transcendent, unchanging beauty of nature, the mutable lives and loves of man are the twin themes of these poems, which include Rexroth’s own brief, crystalline glimpses of the natural world as well as translations from the Japanese, Chinese, and Swedish. This edition is capped by two extraordinary poem sequences: “On Flower Wreath Hill,” a meditation on mortality and eternity (inspired by the tumulus of a “long dead princess” in Kyoto––Flower Wreath Hill being a Chinese and Japanese euphemism for cemetery), and, in a remarkable feat of cross-gender identification, the openly erotic “Love Poems of Marichiko,” in which Rexroth wrote in the persona of a young Japanese woman and “translated” himself.