Poetry Feed

The Age of Anxiety

The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque EclogueThe Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue by W.H. Auden
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read The Age of Anxiety because it was discussed in a book I read back in May about how Christian intellectuals had grappled with the crisis of the Second World War. This is a very strange poem, and most of the time I wasn't sure what to make of it. There were some good lines here and there. It does have a reputation for expressing the anxiety of its age, which I trust it does. But I didn't find much that I could make use of in our own anxious time.

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Whence and Whither

Whence and Whither: On Lives and LivingWhence and Whither: On Lives and Living by Thomas Lynch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A collection of lectures, essays, and stories and, as such, varied in quality. There are some witty, provocative, insightful images and phrases, but not the overall substance I had hoped for.

His discussion "Red Wheel-Barrow" by William Carlos Williams is itself worth the price of the book. That discussion made me cry.

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The Half-Finished Heaven

The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas TranströmerThe Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer by Tomas Tranströmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"But the journey visits me. In these days when I am pushed farther and farther into a corner, when the tree rings widen, when I need reading glasses. Many more things happen than we can carry. There is nothing to be astonished about."

I wish I'd read this volume back in late March or the month of April because I think it's meditations would have resonated more deeply with the experiences of the time. Consider a line such as "the deep that loves to invade humanity without showing its own face."

But I think I'm not in as heavy a mood right now.

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Four Quartets

Four QuartetsFour Quartets by T.S. Eliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending . . ."

I often battle insomnia and even moreso in recent weeks with it occurring almost every night. In the wee hours of this morning I decided to start Eliot's Four Quartets and didn't put it down. I regret not having read it before, but it is also fitting for the time in which we live.

A time when we are having trouble making sense of time. When we wonder if our past is forever past, what our future might be, and how long this present full of waiting and suspension will last. These four poems are about "the still point of the turning world." Melancholic, humble, and hopeful reflections on time.

Back in college I read The Waste Land but have only since then read an Eliot poem or passage here or there when it appeared in some anthology or book. Recently I read The Year of Our Lord 1943 which focused on a handful of Christian thinkers trying to make sense of the crisis of the Second World War and to imagine what might come next. Eliot was one of the thinkers featured in the book and much attention was paid to this book. So, since I've been bingeing poetry this pandemic, I ordered it to read. And am quite grateful I did.

Of course, I should end this review with the most famous lines from the book,

"All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well."

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Words Like Thunder

Words Like Thunder: New and Used Anishinaabe PrayersWords Like Thunder: New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers by Lois Beardslee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"We sing these songs when we pause between strides and heartbeats to listen to old mountains weep and sigh."

A moving collection of poems celebrating and honoring indigenous women. Beardslee writes rich metaphors and paints evocative pictures with her words. Her poems are empowering.

"She rests on her heels, patient, sharing a spreading, lower world of foliage with delicate wasps that suck juice from dark fruits--like her, hovering, and hungry for opportunity, for continuity, and for forever."

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A Brief History of Fruit

A Brief History of Fruit: PoemsA Brief History of Fruit: Poems by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"We regret to inform you
that all the IKEA furniture you own
will at some point in the indeterminate but middle-term future
rise up against you by way of labeling each of your body parts
with a letter or a number, dismembering you, and storing you
in a flatpack box for easy transport and eventual reassembly."

I have rarely laughed out loud as much reading a book of poetry as I did this one. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to you.

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