Robert Pack is one of America’s most eminent nature poets, and his virtuoso talents are on glorious display in Still Here, Still Now, his nineteenth volume of verse. With styles ranging from lyric to narrative, and themes stretching from biblical concerns to meditations on contemporary science, Pack’s poetry is composed in strongly rhythmic cadences and a diction that is direct and accessible. In four different sections of thematically and stylistically divergent verse, Still Here, Still Now delivers many of the elements of Pack’s poetry readers have come to admire and expect—both the humorous and the elegiac.
The first section of the book contains traditional lyrics that celebrate family ties and seek consolations for the passing of personal and evolutionary time. The poems in this group address a named or unnamed auditor in a voice of intimate engagement. Featuring the most narrative selections in the book, the second section consists of fable-like stories, rich with innuendo and implication. The characters in these poems make choices that press against the events and circumstances that challenge and define them. Embodying what Harold Bloom has called Pack’s “courage to surmount suffering,” the poems of the third section are largely devoted to biblical themes and philosophical speculations on the meaning of happiness and the uses of suffering. Here, Pack’s empathy for the human condition as well as his forebodings about the prospect of human survival are on poignant display. The final section of the book turns to Pack's abiding interest in landscape and the ways in which the place one inhabits contains and animates our individual lives.
Ripe with many years, Pack remains a vital presence in American letters. Still Here, Still Now is an affecting and graceful addition to the oeuvre of a poet whose compelling and distinct voice will continue to resonate among his loyal readers.