I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Morsels for a Feast

Morsels for a Feast

Edward Clarke
The Chance of Home, by Mark S Burrows, Paracelete Press, 112 pp, $19, ISBN: 978-1612616476 In The Chance of Home, Mark S Burrows obeys a divine injunction: “idly” he considers the lilies of the field, or those that bloom “promiscuously along the road”. His poems appreciate “how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin”, and yet “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-9). The poet’s question is: Will you dare to turn and step aside from the march toward importance, to care enough to save your life, at least a little, and brush the hems of glory as they come close and pass you by? Such a sight, like Wordsworth’s wet black rock “smitten” from its “lurking-place” by the declining sun into the magical “lustre” of a “patch of sparkling light” that seemed “To have some meaning which I could not find”, is, in RS Thomas’ words, “a brightness / that seemed as transitory as your youth / once, but is the eternity that awaits you”. The first time I read this collection through I was also making my way through the Complete Poems of Edward Thomas and Henry Vaughan’s Silex Scintillans, and I was worrying about poetic form. Sometimes I have a feeling more recent poets use too readily Thomas’s rapid apprentice work as a bridge between older forms of poetry and their freer verse, of which I find myself often suspicious. My engagement with Burrows’s poems, which inhabit looser forms than those of Vaughan, assures me that it is possible to write according to what WB Yeats called “the dance music of the ages” without end rhymes and strict attention always to iambic pentameters. Like Wallace Stevens, Burrows has an inner ear so refined by being attuned to each poem in its making, as it lures him into it, to write without such exoteric restrictions. The second time I read this collection I became more conscious of the repetitions of words, images and certain phrases – like “lure”, “lilies”, “geese”, “task”, variations of the question “who can ever say?” – and I found myself becoming properly lured into its organic whole. In the process I found myself becoming happier, more upright and at ease, kinder even, and certainly more attentive to life outside of the book, once I had put it down. I would say that this is because Burrows, like Heidegger,…

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