Few poets today, even very good ones, write lines, as Stanley Moss does, that are so exquisitely crafted you cannot help but remember them. "What is heaven but the history of color," begins the new long poem after which this book is named. "We know at ninety sometimes it aches to sing," begins another poem, for a woman upon her ninetieth birthday. In the hands of this master, "Ah who art in heaven," transmigrates to the quieting "ah, ah, baby." And here is Moss in an early poem: "I';ve always had a preference / for politics you could sing / on the stage of the Scala," ending that poem with words attributed to Lincoln: "I don';t know what the soul is, / but whatever it is, I know it can humble itself." A History of Color: New and Collected Poems by Stanley Moss is the first one-volume, complete edition of the poetry of this important living American poet. A History of Color proposes poetry that is made to be useful. Moss is our leading psalmist. Metaphors for wonder abound, his language one of sorrow and exaltation.
With nearly seventy-five new poems and over two hundred selected from his previous books, God Breaketh Not All Men';s Hearts Alike is the book of a lifetime in poetry, one that will lead to the author being recognized as among American';s best living poets. A work of intense illumination, these poems investigate meanings and subjects usually left in darkness. A dramatic excitement, a surprising beauty, a song draws us from poem to poem. It has been pointed out by Hayden Carruth that "in many voices, in lines rugged yet eloquent with various learnings, Moss sings us his disconcerting and extraordinarily moving songs of unbelievable belief."
Moss is oceanic: his poems rise, crest, crash, and rise again like waves. His voice echoes the boom of the Old Testament, the fluty trill of Greek mythology, and the gongs of Chinese rituals as he writes about love, nature, war, oppression, and the miracle of language. He addresses the God of the Jews, of the Christians, and of the Muslims with awe and familiarity, and chants to lesser gods of his own invention. In every surprising poem, every song to life, beautiful life, Moss, by turns giddy and sorrowful, expresses a sacred sensuality and an earthy holiness. Or putting it another way: here is a mind operating in open air, unimpeded by fashion or forced thematic focus, profoundly catholic in perspective, at once accessible and erudite, inevitably compelling. All of which is to recommend Moss's ability to participate in and control thoroughly these poems while resisting the impulse to center himself in them. This differentiates his beautiful work from much contemporary breast-beating. Moss is an artist who embraces the possibilities of exultation, appreciation, reconciliation, of extreme tenderness. As such he lays down a commitment to a common, worldly morality toward which all beings gravitate.