The poems in Child in Amber are about loss—of innocence, of life, of a way of living—and about how we either accept these losses with reverence and dignity or are swallowed up by them. Some of the poems tell of childhood and coming of age. Others are fantastical recountings of people, places, and the things the speakers have left behind. But not forever. For at the heart of the book lies the conviction that through these songs, the singers may somehow retain what was essential and sacred.
In its darkest moments, the book reveals the despair we feel when confronted with the unavoidable fact of life—its passing. Kingdoms collapse in ruin, a lover departs, a hero is murdered, a world tumbles into oblivion. There seems no escape from tragedy and grief.
But at certain moments the speakers of these poems—a janitor watching a prisoner's execution, a man recalling a childhood trauma, soldiers fleeing a cruel regime—realize the necessity of salvaging that which would have otherwise been washed away, of embracing their lives, of placing the eternal quality of these experiences in amber.