John Deane's latest collection cascades
with light, vision shifts, journeys that are seldom completed and chancels
of spiritual intuition.
If a poem can be described as a signature of the soul then Deane signs his
sonnets, free verse and translations with the grace of psalms, processionals
and canticles. He writes in our broken time, in our bewildered state,
navigating between traditions that are stone-hard signals and the mercy of
mystery. There are few others who stroke hope, disturb darkness and declare
love in such a manner.
In many of these poems we begin by staring into something ancient and dense
and suddenly something alive and vital stares back through time and tradition;
Manhandling the Deity works best when
disturbing complacency, each of the three main sections swaddled in an
'Officium'. At times one hears an old voice, a relentless vocabulary,
enigmatic and in slow-motion, tap-tapping on our mental faculties, dealing
with unfinihsed business, wonders to become.
Sometimes it is as if we might all share psalms:
you have touched and known us; we
only old scores to settle, old drums to beat
is beyond horizons and beyond beyond,
impossible, but still we stand
a sunbright autumn day...
'From the Far Country')
In places the language is almost conventional, easing one past complexities
and abstractions with quiet grace. On reaching the end of some poems one
realises that we have reached the place where we began.
The collection ends with a canticle, the living and the dead and 'all the
noise of the universe stills / to an oboe hum'. And we begin all over again.
David Grubb 2003