BELIEFS AND BLASPHEMIES by Virginia Hamilton Adair


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The second book by the octogenarian poet organizes itself directly around the title: the author of the much stronger Ants on the Melon (1996) contemplates religion and offers a good deal of orthodoxy and some very mild blasphemies. Accessible and coherent (to a fault?), these mostly short and rhymed poems at times seem like fodder for Reader’s Digest: sing-songy verses that address big questions in transparent language. The nature of God inspires queries regarding origin, gender, permanence, and His relation to Mammon (—Downsize—). Poems on Jesus review Gospel history, bemoan the popular imagery (—For Yeshua—), and imagine the day before the Sermon on the Mount (—The Lost Gospel—), upon which the poet delivers her own sermon (—Sermon on the Sermon—). The lightly blasphemous —His Mother— and —Veronica— contemplate those women in slangy contemporary language. Groups of poems celebrate places of worship, from Chichester Cathedral to —The Chapel at Mountain State Mental Hospital—; another batch extols God’s creatures and questions man’s sovereignty over nature; and another sequence ponders the —eternal moment— when, like Whitman, the poet contains and cherishes —all humankind.— In poems about false prophets, the evil done in God’s name, and the afterlife, Adair’s most blasphemous poem considers the Last Judgment as a myth evolved by sadists and masochists. Adair’s gentle Episcopalianism leads to poems that, at best, recall the divine simplicities of Blake, with whom she sees eternity in a grain of a sand; at worst, she’s Gibran-profound, with the same cosmic gasses.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-375-50017-0
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998