Saturday, September 5, 2020

A Different Kind of Poetry Book

     Before the pandemic, when I could go out to shop just for fun, I found a lovely store filled with books of all kinds along with artwork from local artists.  Just my kind of place.  I spent a long time there, head tilted sideways as I was looking at all the books being offered, when I picked up one that practically yelled at me to get.  And being the obliging sort, of course I bought it.  I mean, what's one more book?

     I've spent the last several months since savoring the poems in this most unusual book of poetry.  Written and/or compiled by Daniel Ladinsky, Love Poems from God features poetry that he created out the writings of twelve mystic writers from various traditions.  Which mystic writers? you ask.  Let me tell you:  Rabia, St. Francis of Assisi, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hafiz, St. Catherine of Siena, Kabir, Mira, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Tukaram.  Both Eastern and Western traditions are featured, although it's interesting to see, when comparing the poems, how the poets often come to similar conclusions or dwell on similar themes.

     Daniel Ladinsky is the first to admit that he had fun taking liberties in his translations/adaptations.  Some of the poems are earthy, some are cheeky, some are downright naughty.  But they all point to the mystic's efforts to describe the sense of unity with the divine within.  This is a wonderful book to read and savor as long as you don't read some of the poems in church.  Recommended.

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