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This review is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

STUNNED BY FUNDAMENTALS Philip Owens, Look, Christ (Gomer Press) £1

'Communion of the Sick' is, significantly, the first poem in Look, Christ, the first full-length collection by Philip Owens, a young minister of the Church in Wales. In this poem, the poet speaks of himself, giving Holy Communion to a dying old lady, as 'awkwardly proffering the sacerdotal/hand'. Their communion is in this act, in their shared but unspoken knowledge that she is dying, and in the minister's consciousness, implicit in the poem and in the whole collection, that he too is 'sick'-as any Christian knows himself to be. His service to a mystery infinitely greater than himself, and especially perplexing when seen against incomprehensible human suffering, expresses his needs as much as those of the people sick in body or mind to whom he offers its comforts. And he is aware of sometimes receiving more from the people than he, personally, can give. Here, addressing the old lady silently in his mind, he asks:


Do you know anything of the benison you
present to me as you hold out your
tiny, cupped hands?


Brief reflection brings home the meaning concentrated so economically in the final image: it is her faith and her humanity, both eloquently expressed by the cupped hands, that make him the recipient of a blessing.

In the third poem in the book, 'Birth Day', which is about the birth of his daughter, Philip Owens describes himself as 'stunned/ by fundamentals'. It is not, ...


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