More than a decade after Jack Gilbertâ€™s The Great Fires, this highly anticipated new collection shows the continued development of a poet who has remained fierce in his avoidance of the beaten path. In Refusing Heaven, Gilbert writes compellingly about the commingled passion, loneliness, and sometimes surprising happiness of a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings: â€śThe days and nights wasted . . . Long hot afternoons / watching ants while the cicadas railed / in the Chinese elm about the brevity of life.â€ť Time slows down in these poems, as Gilbert creates an aura of curiosity and wonder at the fact of existence itself. Despite powerful intermittent griefsâ€“over the women he has parted from or the one lost to cancer (an experience he captures with intimate precision)â€“Gilbertâ€™s choice in this volume is to â€śrefuse heaven.â€ť He prefers this life, with its struggle and alienation and delight, to any paradise. His work is both a rebellious assertion of the call to clarity and a profound affirmation of the world in all its aspects. It braces the reader in its humanity and heart.From the Hardcover edition.