THE GIFT TO BE SIMPLE: A Garland for Mother Ann Lee by Robert Peters

THE GIFT TO BE SIMPLE: A Garland for Mother Ann Lee

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Simple is what this cycle of songs and poems is: short visionary lyrics in tribute to the Female Christ of the Shaker community, Ann Lee, who was traumatized by witnessing an orgy at an early age and further disturbed by the loss of four children in infancy. She subsequently became the founder of a sect of celibates, was persecuted, imprisoned in a madhouse and stoned to death. Curious subject that she is, Peters accepts her, her beliefs, her piety, at face value and renders her psychology in chanting, childlike sugarplums (after the Shakers' own songs) with a level of poetic sophistication comparable to London Bridge is Falling Down. Mystic visions aren't created through mimicry (Yeats, for one, was the genuine article) and Peters' attempt remains an interesting exercise with an intangible point of view on a character who seems, in the last analysis, perhaps not quite as elementary as all that.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1975
Publisher: Liveright