by Kristen Blank
“What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection”
This quote passed constantly through my thoughts as I wound my way through The Sylvia Hotel Poems by George Fetherling. In many ways I felt like I was chasing my own Sylvia, reading these poems which fed upon the shadow of her perfection. The love poems were touching and passionate and pulled at me in a very personal way.
At times I connected with Fetherlings muse, understanding that desire to separate oneself from everything involving unpleasant memories. At others I understood that sadness of an unrequited love that can never be fully realized. This beautiful collection was an ode, not just to a woman, but to the hotel itself; the place where this love materialized and whose memories have left their mark in the stone.
“Poems should be wisdom or be love” (29)
In this case it is safe to say that Fetherling accomplished both, and that there is a wisdom in understanding the heart and it’s desires and needs. I certainly left The Sylvia Hotel with a better realization not just of the poems, but of myself. A very moving and elegant collection.