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God's Loud Hand: Poems

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If religious poetry may be thought of as a great river fed, in the English language, by two main streams - the devotional tradition, leading in recent times to Anne Sexton and John Berryman, and the contrastingly philosophical tradition, exemplified by William Blake - it is to the latter that this new book by Kelly Cherry belongs. In the poems of God's Loud Hand, Cherry conducts - often not at all devotionally, often with an honesty that precludes the emphasis on self that tends to be present in devotional poetry...
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Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase ... benefits world literacy! Read more Show Less

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Baton Rouge: 1993 Hardcover Near Fine in Near Fine dust jacket 0807118206. First printing. This copy is from Annie Dillard's personal library and bears her book-plate on the ... half-title page. About fine in like dust jacket. Read more Show Less

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Overview

If religious poetry may be thought of as a great river fed, in the English language, by two main streams - the devotional tradition, leading in recent times to Anne Sexton and John Berryman, and the contrastingly philosophical tradition, exemplified by William Blake - it is to the latter that this new book by Kelly Cherry belongs. In the poems of God's Loud Hand, Cherry conducts - often not at all devotionally, often with an honesty that precludes the emphasis on self that tends to be present in devotional poetry ("Lord save me," "Lord forgive me," "Lord help me") - a metaphorical investigation of theological ideas. These are fiercely intellectual poems, which, in the way of T. S. Eliot, are more akin in their stringent analysis to Tillich or Niebuhr, perhaps, than to someone like Simone Weil. At their base is a willingness to ask Abraham's great question, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth judge wisely?" This intellectual boldness reveals itself in a formal argumentation rare in contemporary poetry. Like Donne or Hopkins, Kelly Cherry defines her terms, orders her points logically - no vagary or sentimentality appears here. The result of such exactitude is a kind of clarity, a grace, that seems to lift the poems off the page, to cause them to rise, make their own kind of ascension. It is as if these poems were larks - an exaltation of larks, as they say - that rise each morning to heaven's gate, but instead of singing hymns, they sing philosophy's own music. And in what a remarkable variety of keys, what a range of modes and moods. From the opening poems of historical and mythological drama, through the passionate love songs of the second section, through the dark night of the soul that takes place in the third, to the orchestral outburst of the final group of poems - poetry celebrating its own freedom to be poetry - in all these parts ("a chorus of lyrics," one might say) there is a symphonic unity that astonishes, an ode to joy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A multifaceted writer, Cherry ( My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers ) is difficult to classify. Her fiction is better written than her poetry, yet her poems in this collection have a lyrical rather than a narrative base. Despite the fact that Cherry speaks constantly of God and has a number of poems built around the life of Christ, her understanding of a higher power seems predominantly earth-bound: ``At night, God and I slept on our grassy beds, / He in one hut, and I in another.'' As in the Song of Songs, the lover addressed in these poems is at once mundane and divine. In short, there's nothing surprising in the poet's perceptions. Reading through the volume, one rushes toward the secular poems which fill the second half, only to discover these are even more cliched and intrusively rhymed: ``Into darkness, out of light / I plunged. Breathy in midlight, / I lost sight / of all below-- / there was no / bright crescendo. . . .'' A suite of short poems written to the music of an unnamed Soviet composer stands out in retrospect as the book at its finest, but even there mundanity is pervasive. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Perhaps inspired by the recent successes of such writers as Robert Bly, many poets are opening up their work to the spiritual, mystical elements of experience. Among these is Cherry (English, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison), whose latest volume begins with a selection (entitled ``Common Prayers'') of scripture and Old Testament-inspired verse. Here, Cherry is at her best as she moves beyond the literal into the transcendental; her use of rhyme is at times strained (she end-rhymes ``guard in'' and garden''), at times inventive. In the next section, she offers erotic poems; some have wonderful interior rhyming, but in others the imagery moves disturbingly into self-cruelty. The final section, ``Joyful Noise,'' includes poems ranging from the hilarious tour de force ``Grammaire generale,'' which moves deftly between sexual and grammatical terms, to the boring sentimentality of ``Evensong.'' All in all, this is a very uneven collection; recommended only for comprehensive poetry collections.-- Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807118207
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1993
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

Galilee 3
The Radical 4
Gethsemane 6
Golgotha 7
The Blossoming 8
The Same Rose 9
Reasons 10
In the Garden by the Sea: Easter 11
Signs 12
The Island of Contentment 13
Green That Inspires Longings for Joy 14
Reading, Dreaming, Hiding 15
The Raiment We Put On 16
Berlin: An Epithalamion 29
Memory 31
Looking Back 32
History 33
At a Russian Writers' Colony 34
Family Life in the Twentieth Century 35
The Promise 36
Report from an Unnamed City 37
Passing People on the Street 38
In the End 39
Now the Night 40
Grammaire Generale: A Review 43
The Name 45
Woman Living Alone 46
Love 47
Work 48
Evensong 49
Grace 50
Redemption 51
And Then 52
Waiting for the End of Time 53
The Heart of the World 54
Narcissus "Galilea" 55
Prayer 56
God's Friends Will Wear Rain*bows 57
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