The English Boat

Donald Revell. Alice James, $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-76-3
Revell (Drought-Adapted Vine) attests to the power of devotional poetic practice in his 13th collection, a quiet and odd work of extraordinary subtleties. “On the far side of becoming, a life’s work/ Begins another kind of work, but naked/ Of change,” he writes. The poems merge and move as a murmuration, settling on “mountains of new soil and soft trees” and rising into the sky “where starlings meant/ To stitch the clouds together for Jacob’s tent.” Readers familiar with Revell will recognize his grounding in Western classical literature, from which he takes “new arms, old eyes,/ Omens.” Spenser is prominent here, but Revell also reaches for outliers, such as Shakespeare’s Leontes and Pericles, “an old man with a new beard.” Prayers and visions abound, as do signs of the hard-won faith that brings the poet to proclaim, “Son/ and heir, fire, air, the world is flawless.” Strings of sonnets—some of traditional types, others of Revell’s devising—move under the fingers like the beads of a rosary: “I sing of Mary climbed out of earth alive.” Yet for all Revell’s attention to mind and soul, he remains firmly grounded on Earth, living “Home under God, humanly.” Thoroughly integrating sacred and secular, Revell produces a book of love and rapture. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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