Jones Very

Jones Very, Author, Helen R. Deese, Editor
Jones Very, Author, Helen R. Deese, Editor University of Georgia Press $69.95 (968p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1481-5
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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While a student at Harvard Divinity School in 1838, Jones Very experienced a spiritual ``new birth.'' He wrote to a colleague: ``In my senior year in college I experienced what is commonly called a change of heart, which tells us that all we have belongs to God and that we ought to have no will of our own.'' His crisis resulted in a month's commitment at McLean Asylum. A year later, he published a book of essays and poems, selected and edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who recognized Very's literary talent. Very was a Quietist, believing that ``the hand and foot that stir not, they shall find / Sooner than all the rightful place to go.'' He pursued an Eastern will-lessness, though expected no revelation, only ``the certain route. . . . The path of Him.'' Very's poetic output, some 700 poems, can be divided into two groups: the poems, mainly sonnets, of the five years surrounding his ``new birth''; and those he wrote after becoming a clergyman in 1843. The first group, while sometimes rhythmically monotonous, spill over with rapture and his firsthand experience of God's presence. The second group, many of them occasional poems (e.g., ``The First Atlantic Telegraph''), reveal that Very's spiritual attention at times turned more to the sermons he wrote; only a few of the verses of this period remind us of the poet he once was. (June)
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