Ravenna Diagram by Henry Gould


Ravenna Diagram is a long poem which follows in the vein of Leaves of Grass, The Bridge, Paterson, The Cantos, “A”, and The Maximus Poems.  It is an attempt to come to new terms with old epic and visionary traditions, epitomized by Dante and Milton, and carried on by Hart Crane, H.D., Louis Zukofsky, Jay Wright and others. The poet aims to take up the primordial challenge of bridging heaven and earth, the spiritual and temporal, in a new voice. There is a special affinity with the Acmeist movement of Russian poetry and Osip Mandelstam – tracing to Dante, toward the end of his life, in Ravenna, completing his Divina Commedia under the clear shadows of Eastern Orthodox mosaics.  But this is an American poem, and a work-in-progress – juxtaposing Dante’s spiritual “vertical” with the vast “horizontal” of colloquial, pilgrim American time and space. —Henry Gould

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 448
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: January, 2018
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-92-1


This is an extraordinary poetry. Classical and avant-garde. Delicate and extreme. Full of planetary music, important signal from the Milky Way. —Grzegorz Wróblewski

Using the most bardic of forms (his “flinty path from the old song”), Henry Gould writes in, through, and beyond poetic tradition. “It Must Give Pleasure,” Wallace Stevens told us, and Gould paid attention. Ravenna Diagram is a rich, expansive, radically inclusive love letter to the natural world, to poetry, to the strange joy of shaping experience. —Kathleen Ossip

With this extraordinarily ambitious serial long poem, Henry Gould stakes out a boldly liberating space for the fate and potency of lyric in the 21st Century. Ravenna Diagram etches a remarkably sustained act of imaginative musicality that masques its aspirations as a dynamic spiritual investigation. In these elegant quatrains everything is given expression, everything is encompassed.  Gould’s supple sequence represents a lifetime’s accrual of beat and measure: experience distilled into a microgrammic matrix of metrics. Ravenna Diagram shows us, against expectations, that to be epic is also to be intimate. Younger poets seem lost these days in a delusional haze of Twitter and faux surrealism. Not here, dear reader. No one anywhere is writing work like this. —Patrick Pritchett

Alight and turn body and soul toward this rare and entirely singular collection. Inside its rich lattice of haunting loss – a silver-footed Beatrice, and intuition couples to its sequitur – insight, all phosphoresce in Ravenna Diagram.

Germane within this planetarium, nearing the horizon of each page, discover an ace and an intimate pillow of dreams in concert with Gould’s bewitching interplay of dignity and purpose. —Lissa Wolsak

The poetry of Henry Gould is not for the faint of heart, it is a poetry you must work for, a poetry akin to Hart Crane and Ezra Poundin its intricacies, deeply lyrical and panoramic. —Reyes Cardenas



El Anatsui, like Anansi the spider
weaves diaphanous
Byzantium veils
from bottle caps and baling wire –

cloud-gowns for a Queen of South
Ghana. Something greater
than fin-de-siècle Vienna
is here, shouts sinuous, sooth-

siring Solomon. Makossa,
Ebeano, Dark Sailor,
Top Squad – tesserae, beer-
bubbles – forlorn cells of Africa

welded by amiable fellowship
to spring with airy, earthy
splendor – coruscant smithy
of diamond cobra (edgy as whip).

Solomon in all his glory…
field lilies, Flanders
epitaphs. Grandfather’s
brass shell, after St. Mihiel (he

saved it from the War to End
All Wars). Copper wire,
steel helmets… fire. There
is a greater mettle here, men –

forged in the crucible of human
union (world with out end,
amen). It’s coming, friend –
Cosmopolis (Einstein’s Gödel-heaven).



Henry GouldHenry Gould’s poems, essays and reviews have appeared in various journals. He maintains a poetry website called HG Poetics (hgpoetics.blogspot.com). His books include Stone (Copper Beech Press, 1979) and Stubborn Grew (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000); he also co-edited an anthology in honor of poet and scholar Edwin Honig, titled A Glass of Green Tea – With Honig     (1994, distr. by Fordham U.P.), and edited a volume of Honig’s collected poems, Time & Again, Poems 1940-1997  (XLibris). After living for many years in Providence, RI, he recently returned to his hometown, Minneapolis.

Additional information

Weight 30 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1.25 in