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Legacy of the Last World, Poems by
Legacy of the Last World binds us to earth, to time, and to each other, defines growth through changes in relationships and acceptance of both fragility and strength. A sense of place pervades the pages, a place in nature where always a single voice guides us safely home. Susan Roney-O'Brien's lyrics and narratives sing in our ears long after the book has been closed.
"Such a luxuriance of language, words spilling their sweetness like ripe fruit, the hive of life swarming: this is poetry with all the portals of the senses open, orphic in the animating power of its song. With the authority of a rural life lived close to nature, Roney-O'Brien's moving poetry answers what it asks: 'if I am keeper of tree and land, am I not also steward of memory?' for 'who else/can trace the spaces gone to dark?'"-- Eleanor Wilner
"Expelled from Eden, Eve, first witness to wonder, apparently left bits of her spirit scattered through our world. In these luminous poems Susan Roney O'Brien uncovers the remarkable consciousness of our universal mother, not only in the memory of that garden but in the quotidian events of a present life closely lived. From the simple moment of wisteria blooming in a courtyard to the pain of a child's attempted suicide, this world, filled with joy and loss, wonder and terror, carries the stamp of a remarkable and generous soul--the 'legacy of the last world.'"--Dan Lewis
"Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote: 'Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar: ' Just so, wrought with exquisite craft and care, in Legacy of the Last World, Susan Roney O'Brien gives us a world both familiar and made strange- the natural world endowed with beauty, mystery and spiritual depth. She erases the boundaries between herself and the natural world, a butterfly chooses to walk on her outstretched hand, a husband and wife in sleep become fused as a moth, she writes 'I need to understand wings.' Whatever her subject, the creation myth, nature, marriage, friendship, family, the beauty of her imagery and the music of her language, all rise to myth. She sings 'deep earth chants' 'knows heartwood' 'a whole cascading symphony in your ear'. Through her skill and the close attention she pays to her world, she gives us a work of great beauty-a legacy." -Patricia Fargnoli
"'Not the Eve of myth, but rather a fundamental force of nature undergirds these poems--an Eve, who, when Adam died, took up naming, an Eve on her knees who plundered rows of potatoes. She is the steward of the meadow, keeper of the root cellar, guardian of what we can and cannot see, so that we will remember/ the root that yields joy / yields pain. Defined by a language of scope and intimacy, this last world promises in deep stillness / there is a voice. This is an accounting of the way things are. In 'Wolf Tree,' the speaker laments after a storm takes their tree down: For years since, we've hoped / our tree was not the tree of the world. With clarity of purpose rarely seen in American poetry, Roney-O'Brien presents a speaker who is not afraid to warn us, in spectacularly beautiful poems, that ours is indeed the last world.'"--Pam Bernard