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.