On opening his posthumous volume of poems one feels that this slender sheaf of songs was the poet's last escape from reality before he reached the final liberation, which was death. To Madison Cawein art was, as with Wagner, his prayer. In his own words it was "the voice and vision of the soul of man,"--something to be treated reverently and approached with ear attuned to beauty. For beauty, as Howells and many of Cawein's earlier critics have affirmed, was Cawein's preoccupation, his religion. No other American poet has sung so earnestly of the magic and wonder of field and forest and season's change. The idolatry of nature was a passion with him. And as a result we have the heritage of his many previous volumes of nature poetry.But in these later poems there is a diminution of the twilight imagery. Cawein strikes deeper into the pulse of human feeling, and draws his themes from life itself.
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