SACKS, Peter ( 1950- ), was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and grew up in Durban. He now teaches English and writing at Johns Hopkins University.
Sacks writes a strong, clear-sighted poetry that is deeply rooted in place. But if the poems begin in particular locales, the poet's meditative intelligence soon brings the moral topography into view. In his first collection, In These Mountains ( New York and London, 1986), Sacks manifested his characteristic concerns--with romantic love, memory, political accountability, and the spiritual impulse--but managed to sustain a subdued lyricism throughout. The title- poem, an imaginative re-creation of the lives of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, summons up the void left behind after their all-but total eradication, but does so in an elegiac manner. The poet hears: 'no bird cry, | no river sound, no spirits travelling quickly | with their quivers under the cold drift of stars, | their bone-chip rattles and their voices | streaming in the darkness and the wind.'
Promised Lands ( New York and London, 1990), Sacks's second collection, reveals a perceptibly more stringent vision. While the majority of the poems are bound to locale-- notably the sequence 'States' which surveys the American terrain--Sacks is more inclined than before to historical, mythic, and religious speculation. The result is that the sensuous particulars encountered in the first book recede to make place for more emblematic treatment of subject. Place is not so much seen for itself as seen through. A starkly beautiful natural world is also a place for moral and spiritual self-reckoning. In his powerful long poem 'Alaska', Sacks concludes: 'Between destruction and redemption | we who know nothing of purity except the word, | move through the waters, | move into the fire no breath can name, | the fire that will not say it is enough | until we breathe again.'
Sacks is also the author of The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats ( 1985).
SACKVILLE-WEST, V. (Victoria Mary) ( 1892- 1962), was born into a wealthy and aristocratic family and brought up at Knole, the ancestral home of the Sackville family. She became a prolific novelist and biographer, but never shook off the air of a dilettante and is best remembered for her literary friendships (notably with Virginia Woolf), her well- documented marriage to writer and diplomat Harold Nicolson, and her expertise as a creative gardener. The garden she made with Nicolson at their home, Sissinghurst Castle, became the subject for many gardening books in the later years of her life. Her reputation as a poet rests on The Land, a popular success ever since its publication in 1926, which relates at length (2,500 lines) and in the first-person the cycle of a farming year in Kent. The poem was deliberately anti-modernist and provincial, using regular iambic lines and archaic diction, but was not deliberately modelled on Virgil's Georgics, of which the author was ignorant. A better poem, started soon after publication of The Land but not finished until 1946, is The Garden, also a long poem, but by no means so artificial. It was in effect a treatise on gardening, and also a meditation, written in time of war and expressive of an inner landscape as well as a realized, physical