Cascades of Light


MANHANDLING THE DEITY
by John F. Deane
80pp, 8.95, Carcanet

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; something determined.

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:

            Lord you have touched and known us; we
            have only old scores to settle, old drums to beat
                        (from 'Psalm')

            He is beyond horizons and beyond beyond,
            unviable, impossible, but still we stand
            on a sunbright autumn day...
                        (from '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