"Overall, the author writes clearly and expressively. For example, the plot's series of visions and revelations are followed by a cycle of prose poems called 'The Stars in the Fall,' which continue the themes of revelation and serendipity that drive the main text....An evocative...fantasy about artists seeking fulfillment through art and faith."– Kirkus Reviews
A parable about two young people drawn together by spiritual affinity.
In this short book by Pedersen (Sophia, 2013, etc.), set in a vaguely medieval place and time, an illiterate young man named Metaxaeus, working in a village with his parents and friends, is an instinctively, supremely talented sculptor. He knows “how to take from that fountain within and to soak up its knowledge and then how to communicate this truth through the medium of sculpting stone.” He’s mentored in this skill by a mysterious woman named Maya, who teaches him to “Learn with your whole soul how to carve in stone.” He keeps with him at all times a small sculpture of his own creation—an exquisite miniature bird carved from a jewel, which strikes even his workaday parents as life-changingly beautiful. Another exquisite, tiny sculpture is key to Pedersen’s other main character, a young woman named Akasha who lives in another village and has a nearly supernatural gift for storytelling (“she had learned to plunge deep into herself, and she saw things there, things she imagined that other people did not see”). When Metaxaeus decides to leave his village and travel to the capital city of his region, Pederson works to bring the two together in what turns out to be a lifelong spiritual journey. Overall, the author writes clearly and expressively. For example, the plot’s series of visions and revelations are followed by a cycle of prose poems called “The Stars in the Fall,” which continue the themes of revelation and serendipity that drive the main text (“Wisdom never works without a smile,” reads one typical line, “one which then bequeaths itself joyously to others”). But although the story’s main characters have enigmatic mentors and sympathetic natures, there isn’t much in the way of meaty dialogue. The book’s tone is also occasionally somewhat flat, and it relies too heavily on signs and wonders that may wear thin for readers who aren’t already enthusiastic about spiritual literature.
An evocative but slight fantasy about artists seeking fulfillment through art and faith.
Pedersen (The Wisdom of Sophia: Nature, Wonderment and the Soul of the Sublime, 2012, etc.) once again applies his mystical prose poetics toward deciphering wisdom, which he personifies as “Her” or “Sophia.”
The collection opens with an antithetical reworking of the 1920 William Butler Yeats poem “The Second Coming.” Instead of things falling apart and the center not holding, as Yeats had it, Pedersen says, “All things come together. The center cannot but hold.” This inversion is typical of many prose poems here, which seem to be aimed more at creating wonder than discovering actual truth. Calling his pieces “inspired meditations in prose,” the author acknowledges that his task is mainly one of reflection. Appropriately, no topic is off-limits and all boundaries are porous; Pedersen jumps from the physical to the metaphysical, from the spiritual to the temporal, and most frequently, from the prosaic to the profound. For example, one piece explores the breaking of waves, and another the fundamentals of cosmogenesis. In some cases, the poems overreach and become esoteric: “The ‘Star-Truth’ is a spiritually evolutive vision of the cosmos.” However, the simpler, more heartfelt pieces succeed by virtue of their observational acuity. In “Winter,” for example, Pedersen explores the notion of genuineness: “To be genuine, the cabin which sits beside the river, lends its rising smoke to the steel-gray sky. And the river itself, whose dense floes are frozen and unmoving, in the depths of a February afternoon, runs on beneath the icy surface, to be genuine, to be true.” Here the tone fits the topic, with dense yet halting lyrical currents matching those unseen beneath the frozen waters.
A strong but uneven collection that engagingly seeks truth through verse but discovers little that’s new.
Pedersen’s (The Spiral Arms, 2012, etc.) short prose-poem-canticle-chapbook to Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, is an “homage to the soul of the sacred feminine.”
Pedersen seeks to illuminate “the Kingdom of Heaven as here and now.” A typical passage, stuffed with colorful words and high-sounding diction (not to mention improper commas), reads: “The scintillating flame, of an orange-descending sun. A white fire to the waves. The red-iridescent mystery, of this sun-movemented [sic] blaze. Withal the white-stellar and invisible ellipse, sifting like silver silk, through the deep-velvet dark.” The chapter concludes with “Remember when you pray…that you are a god,” but Pedersen forges little logical or even poetic relationship between that conclusion and the foregoing flame, fire, sun and starry sky. Pedersen explains in a preface that he’s being deliberately elliptical to achieve “an even greater concentration of meaning” and thus “a greater potency,” yet “this approach relies upon the work of time, the effort of seeking”—that is, on the reader’s effort. Nonetheless, deciphering powerful meaning from Pedersen’s truisms—we make our own fate; the Kingdom of Heaven is within—can be problematic and becomes especially difficult in impossible-to-parse accretions: “That in time our thoughts become finished, and yet the mind which does not disappear, is nevertheless and in its subtle cognitions, eclipsed utterly, by the wide-intricate wings of the Spirit and what it whispers to us, in dreams.” In some passages, the choppy sentences could be rearranged with little change in meaning. Additionally, the frequent repetition, particularly of color names, becomes very tiresome—argent-purple, white-argent, purple-argent, and gold-argent, for example, occur within one short three-page chapter.
A rich mythic, poetic and philosophic tradition that here offers more obscurity than enlightenment.