In this meditative and incisive collection, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn draws on themes of morality and mortality to explore the innermost machinations of human nature. Shifting in tone but never wavering in their essential honesty, these poems reflect on desire, restraint, and the roles we play in an ever-evolving society. A stunning sequence on the relationship between the speaker and “Mrs. Cavendish” examines an intimacy sustained and repelled by politics, philosophy, and attraction. Wide-ranging, intellectually daring, and wry, Pagan Virtues reminds us of Dunn’s penetrating eye for the universal and the specific, and his ability to highlight our contradictions with tenderness and wit.