Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

CREATIVE PATHWAYS BRIAN KEEBLE, Conversing with Paradise (Golgonooza) £25 hb, £14.95 pb
VERNON WATKINS, Poems for Dylan (Gomer) £5.95
WENDELL BERRY, The Gift of Gravity: Selected Poems 1968-2000 (Golgonooza) £9.95

Is it possible to distinguish `mystical' or `visionary' poetry from poetry as such? The passage of Blake's prose from which Brian Keeble takes his title suggests that it may not be. `Poetry, Painting, and Music,' Blake wrote, are `the three Powers in Man of conversing with Paradise, which the flood did not Sweep away.' Blake certainly did not believe that everything in verse or on canvas had spiritual value. But his remark implies that when the arts are doing their proper job, they act as pathways for creator and audience alike to a profound reality - call it `timeless' or `unfallen', `divine' or `archetypal' according to your chosen vocabulary - which transcends the world of our mundane, utilitarian concerns.

Evidently it is, from one point of view, a matter of emphasis. Just as one's mood may be lifted by an unexpected glimpse of beauty or human insight in the midst of the most tedious daily business, so any poet worth the name will on occasion produce a line or stanza of some profundity, refreshing our perceptions and changing our relationship to ourselves and our experience. Certain poets, however, consistently direct attention to the relationship between observed reality and ontological depth in a way that implies ethical as well as aesthetic values, and explicitly take ultimate questions of being, purpose and consciousness as their themes.

One clear intention of Conversing with Paradise is to advocate and interpret such poetry, as well as to give a view ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image