paper • 186 pages • 17.95
ISBN: 978-1-954245-60-0
eISBN: 978-1-954245-61-7
September 2023 • Poetry

The Mansions 

Daniel Tobin

Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award in Poetry

Gold Winner Human Relations Indie Book Award in Poetry

Finalist for the Poetry by the Sea Award

Longlisted for the Mass Book Award

From award-winning poet Daniel Tobin comes The Mansions, an epic trilogy of book-length poems which examines exemplary 20th-Century figures Georges Lemaître, Simone Weil, and Teilhard de Chardin, all at the crossroads of science, history, and religion. Capacious in their philosophical explorations, immaculate in their form, stirring in their alchemy of faith and empiricism, each complete section works both autonomously and as part of the whole, building a house that contains many mansions, simulating the dynamic enormity of creation itself — always already entire and yet unfinished, borderless, infinite. Immersed in a time when cataclysmic geopolitical events coincided with revolutionary scientific progress, The Mansions charts a Dantean journey as it confronts the exigencies and contingencies which define modernity: history, religion, our planet’s fate, and the purpose of humankind. A fractal symphony of voices, Tobin’s tripartite collection represents a staggering literary achievement — a lyric narrative that can hold the totality of the divine and of godlessness, that harmonizes time as change and as eternity, that sees “pendant grapes” as “embodied wine.” Its music is the harvest “cutting free the perfectly nurtured bruise-colored fruit, hour / by hour,” and its wisdom embraces the transience of all things as well as the transfiguration of the self, that everlasting impermanence: “‘I see the landscape as it is when I’m not there.’”

from “Garden”

“These designs attributed to God are cuttings made by us,
chosen from infinite turns, connections that might be made
by any intelligence, human, non-human, no matter the scale,

throughout space and time…” Let this cutting be morning
in the Luxembourg Gardens: They have come by streetcar
across the Seine—son, mother, baby Simone who refuses

to be fed, except by bottle, holes cut in the nipple to let
solid foods pass. Not yet two. Sickly. This baby cannot survive.
Each day they walk the paths so she breathes the fresher air,

this intricate parterre of flowers and lawn, the central basin
with its water jet, these balustrades, the marionette theatre—
like an unbroken symmetry… And people sitting, passing,

as in a painting by Watteau. Is she looking at the toy boats?

Praise from the preface by Ryan Wilson

. . . Daniel Tobin’s The Mansions is nothing less than a wonder. In its compendious learning, its consummate artistry, and its spiritual wisdom, this poem inspires genuine awe, and it challenges the reader to think more broadly and more acutely, to feel more profoundly, and to live life more attentively. In these days, as so many of us feel darkness growing all around us, Tobin’s poem may serve us as a guide and lead us to a place where we’re able, riveder le stelle, “to see again the stars,” as Dante does upon emerging from the Inferno.