Robert Siegel died in December 2012 of cancer. But Within This Tree of Bones, he leaves behind a compilation of his poetry which spans five decades and covers such topics as deer ticks, ancient English literature, and hamsters. But as Emily Whitten from Notable Books writes, “Perhaps most notably, the new life within his cancerous ‘tree of bones’ grows from a whisper, mostly hinted at, to later poems that are a ‘shout from the stomach’ to ‘give gladness and joy back to the Lord.'”
These poems begin fixed in the human condition, our common experience of an imperfect world. Slowly, under the aegis of the Spirit, they move toward a brighter vision of things: they ask us to “dream in that fecund darkness until all shapes are shining.” Poetry offers us an experience of union with the alarming and enthralling world we live in, as well as glimpses of what transcends it and is beyond language. It reminds us that all is connected and supports the hope that light will triumph. The author trusts that these poems may do the same as they explore the chain of being from animal to human, from serpent to angel—and that joy is the final dominant note.