Perceptions of Essence in the Poems of "Field Guide" by Robert Hass
Taylor, James McOmber
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The focus of this paper will be on Field Guide. More specifically, I will concentrate on the variations of a theme that occur in many of the poems in the book. The central idea of this theme is the sharing of an essence of being by all things and the consequent equality everything possesses. The poems in this collection are loaded with wildlife images, sea life images, and, simply, life images. When I read these poems I feel the speaker is striving for an empathy with the entirety of his environment. Field Guide is an appropriate title, because of the awareness of life in the poems, and because of the continuing self-examination in each experience. I will primarily be discussing the poems that deal most directly with the idea of an underlying equality of all things. For the purpose of discussion, I will present the poems out of their original sequence. Here, however, are the titles as they appear in Field Guide: "On the Coast near Sausalito," "Letter to a Poet," "Graveyard at Bolinas," "San Pedro Road," "Measure," and "In Weather."