Days of Clear Light: A Festschrift in Honour of Jessie Lendennie, in Celebration of Salmon Poetry at 40

It is important that you don’t get turned away by the wordy title or the academese of the presentation of these poems: “The Salmon, a journal of poetry and prose, as an alternative voice in Irish Literature.” With a foreword by the President of Ireland, no less. We are moving in a rarefied atmosphere, here.

While a certain pride in the academic background of the art is understandable, I would prefer to review a simple book of wonderful poetry called “Days of Clear Light,” and that is what I am going to do.

Full disclosure. My heritage is Irish/Scottish. My father raised me on the poetry of the Celtic corners of the British Isles, gleaned from his copious memory. So when I am asked to review the pale, intellectual ditherings of modern would-be poets, I grit my teeth, put on my best professional smile, and try to find something nice to say about their work.

“Days of Clear Light” is not poetry that you appreciate because it is interesting, This is poetry that you love because it reaches you at deeper levels. Songs full of the sea, the wind, old stone buildings and the green land.

Since this book is a sample of poems from many writers, it is neither even nor consistent, except in quality. Samples include the simple, haunting memory of “The Orange Rucksack,” evoking the naïve wonder of a far-off earlier time. “Sunday Prayers,” an expressionistic glimpse into the mind of a church-goer. One of my favourites, “Words Play,” likens the poet’s words to playful dogs. And if you want it all encapsulated in one poem, read Gillian Clarke’s “The Singer and the Song,” the most beautiful review this book could ever receive.

Some poems are less accessible than others, as is to be expected. A couple of them I have absolutely no idea what they’re on about. But for most, it is not so important to understand the meaning as it is to let the emotion wash over you, and see what is left behind after it ebbs away.

Not a book to sit down and read all at once. It is one of those old companions that you have on the bedside table. You pick it up to wash the dross of everyday life from your soul as you compose yourself for pleasant dreams.

This is a book that sings to you. Highly recommended, especially for those who want to know what it feels like to read real poetry.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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