Thought provoking read from new poet. This short volume of work from a young poet, using a sonnet to illustrate religious and iconic figures could be off putting, but Christopher Villiers has used his own words to convey the historic and deeply human experiences of biblical characters. Each sonnet is also illustrated by pictures of classical art. This assists the reader to focus and personally reflex. This is a wonderful collection and example from this new poet. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Food for the mind and the heart. It may be helpful to think of these sonnets as prayers that rhyme. The meticulously crafted first person narratives, each one containing a volta that depicts the narrator’s mind coming to a fresh realisation of the nature of divinity, show God’s power at work in the world in a variety of settings. Whether the subject of the sonnet is a saint, a sinner, or simply a flawed person whose relationship with God requires improvement, slowly feeling their way towards enlightenment using the handholds of rhyme and metre, they will eventually realise — perhaps too late — that they are part of a pattern more wide, deep, and beautiful than they can comprehend entirely. The elegant form of the sonnet, a staple of poetry for hundreds of years, is therefore used as a microcosm of the divine reason or Logos in which all this book’s readers live and move and have their being.
The author is gifted with a rare intelligence, tempered with understanding and piety, which he uses to enter the heads of a heterogeneous range of Biblical figures. Although their corporeal forms became dust millennia ago, their spirits continue not only in whichever extra-mundane afterlife they now inhabit, but also in the pages of this slender yet deeply intriguing volume.
A moving way to experience and meditate on the Scriptures. This is an impressive and ambitious collection of poems from a young theologian and poet. Starting with Adam and Eve, and ending with the coronation of Mary in heaven, the collection spans the story of redemption, with each poem offering a glimpse through the eyes of one of the biblical characters in each key event. The poems work well as individual meditations, but it is also fruitful to read them all in one go – you are led through the whole grand story, but in a personal and grounded way with events, emotions, and theological messages crystallised in the perspective of each individual person. The poems encourage the reader to identify with the person speaking and to imagine themselves in the speaker’s place in a way reminiscent of Ignatian spirituality. I personally found the New Testament poems to be particularly evocative: my favourites included Redemption (the moment where Mary Magdalene anoints the feet of Christ) and Samaritan Woman.