In So Far So Good, a master of the science fiction genre, Ursula K. Le Guin gathers poetry written in the final years of her life and leaves us a valedictory collection rich with wisdom. Here Le Guin paints images of wind, rain, seasons, sleep, darkness, old age and death—across seven sections—and with an omnivorous sense of language, music, and curiosity for the world. The poems are sonorous and spellbinding––flowing with a lingering cadence that echoes deep within the reader.  

Some poems wrestle with the journey and destination of the body and soul: “I think of the journey / we will take together / in the oarless boat / across the shoreless river.” In others, Le Guin yearns toward mysticism: “to your soul I say: / With none to hide from / run now, dance / within the walls / of the great house.” She reflects upon old age and affirms its ramifications, writing that “all earth’s dust / has been life, held soul, is holy,” and commanding the spirit to “rehearse the journeys of the body / that are to come, the motions / of the matter that held you.”

Each poem within So Far So Good is a journey that beckons its readers to set sail, to pay attention, and to flutter in the wind. Le Guin finds delight in the dark mysteries of life and conveys her own experiences with a kind of urgency. Her poems root themselves in the natural world to incite inner transformation: “The world may be as it used to be / but I am altered, I the eye that sees / all half known, half strange as if newborn / and fresh to its mortality.” Just so, Le Guin’s So Far So Good guides us, with dreamlike imagery, through the waters of mortality.

Copper Canyon Press.

— Review by Samuel Binns