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don’t want stopped//even for the saved.’’ But it will be stopped, the poem asserts, even when we’re not sure of the origins or endings of things: Along with the caused Things outside that I can’t see, I’m here ahead of myself again toward that coupling with the ground when ‘‘I am poured out like water.’’ Death’s still to be heard from at its least reserved. Under its breath it primes me to pay up and look pleasant. This inviting, open-hearted, at times difficult, and often thrilling book is a brief on behalf of life, even a life that walks near a deepening shadow. Chris Davidson Biola University Poetic Revelations: The Power of the Words III. Edited by Mark S. Burrows, Jean Ward, and Małgorzata Grzegorzewska. London: Routledge, 2017. Pp. xiv + 262. $140.00. £85.00. Poetic Revelations is the third volume of the excellent series of essays drawn from the Power of the Word conferences instituted by Heythrop College and the Institute of English Studies of the University of London. The particular conference where these papers originated was held in the University of Gdańsk, Poland in 2013, and they form an outstanding book in the field of literature and theology. Indeed, the editors are to be commended for producing such a tightly and intelligently edited and constructed volume of a uniformly high standard. Far from being simply a random collection of essays, as is all too often the case in conference volumes, this constitutes a well-argued and coherent symposium on the nature of poetry, revelation, and incarnational theology. At its heart is a meditation on the Johannine mystery of the Word made flesh, avoiding any simplistic conflations of poetry with theology, yet beginning, in Mark S. Burrows’s introduction, through Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘‘Sunlight,’’ with a delicate illustration of poetry’s capacity to reveal, or, in Sir Michael Edwards’s phrase, to cross ‘‘the threshold into something else’’ (21). The book is divided into three parts—‘‘Word Made Word,’’ ‘‘Flesh Made Word,’’ and ‘‘Word Made Flesh,’’ each section being constructed around introductory key essays by Michael Edwards, Richard Viladesau, and Angela Leighton, respectively. Thus a theologian , Viladesau, is flanked, on the one hand, by a poet and a literary critic, and, on the other, by a professor of English. Each of these three chapters is a gem, but it is Book Reviews 567 Edwards’s ‘‘Poetry Human and Divine’’ that sets the tone for the whole book. Beginning with the mystery of the Creation by God’s Word in Genesis, and with Jesus as the Word made flesh in the fourth Gospel, Edwards develops a delicate reflection on the nature of a poem as ‘‘a special kind of body, hinting of a body remade’’ (25), and concluding with the Incarnation and the Word made flesh that ‘‘incites one to poetry’’ (27). It would not be inappropriate for the reader to follow immediately with Richard Viladesau’s ‘‘Revelation and Inspiration among Theologians and Poets,’’ which begins with a theological reflection on John 1:1–14 and ‘‘the classical Christian doctrine of Incarnation’’ (89). From thence, via a brief allusion to the Hindu ‘‘avatars’’ of Vishnu in the Bhagavad-G ıt a, Viladesau betrays the Catholic roots of the conversation with a meditation on St. Thomas Aquinas’s summary of the reality of Christ’s humanity, and from thence to reflections on Rilke’s great ‘‘Ninth Elegy.’’ But perhaps the most beguiling of these three guiding essays is Angela Leighton’s reflections ‘‘On Poetry and Presence in Les Murray,’’ introducing the third section of the book, ‘‘Word Made Flesh: The Poem as Body Enclosed in Language.’’ The Australian poet Les Murray is a deeply religious writer, though his ‘‘God is not out there’’ (153), but rather within the ‘‘verbal workings,’’ vocabulary, and linguistic structures of his poems. Leighton reads them with energy and through them—poems spoken by beetles, or exploring bats ‘‘in their irreducible battiness’’ (161)—leads us towards theologically haunted words such as ‘‘presence’’ or, finally, ‘‘Yahweh’’ as the insistent vowels of the poem ‘‘Bats Ultrasound’’ slip towards the unnamable name of God...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 567-569
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-28
Open Access
No
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