Monday, May 25, 2009

Review, Finding Beauty, Selected Poems by Marine Robert Warden

Review, Finding Beauty, Selected Poems by Marine Robert Warden (Bellowing Ark Press, Seattle, Washington, 2009)

Review by Barbara Bialick

In Finding Beauty, you win the benefits of a life-experienced retired doctor in Riverside, California, who was born in 1927 and is a multi-published poet. His imagery is deep and mystical, and its lack of punctuation reflects his voice, which speaks with a certainty and also an irony. What he conveys is that we really can’t figure out the meaning of the present without a simultaneous awe of events from the movement of history. But nature’s beauty remains omnipresent.

The beginning of the book highlights close relatives. In “Mother”, he says,

“there was music inside you/that wanted to come out/so your hands played/with needles and leaves/substitute for black and white keys/…”

Unfortunately, back then, when he was six, he

“didn’t stop/to wonder what dreams you had”.

Then in “So”, he speaks about age:

“you are at the age now/where long-time friends disappear/and a big, black crow struts/on the back yard grass/arrogantly unaware…”

At all the various ages he covers in this collection, nature is noticeably on its own time and path. But nature is also a herald. In “For the Dead in Iraq” he needs look no farther than his back yard:

“there was a hoarse cry above our backyard/a hawk perhaps and all the gold finches/…sensed a dark shadow overhead/and fled leaving behind no songs/a single white feather fluttered to the grass”.

In one rare “doctor poem”, Warden thinks back to Chicago in 1954 where in the Black ghetto,

“I couldn’t forget the children/we delivered them by flashlights/in cold little basement flats/deep in the slums at Christmas time/…shivering ourselves/in our thin white student coats…”

Later in the book, the poetry is in tribute to his wife Lois. In “The Great Ground Swell”, “even this vast land…the ground swell rises higher and then/in all its magnificence the land/will genesis from the biblical void/the sea our Great Mother/gives birth to the land for us…/all part of a great ground swell/out of which you appeared”.

The last poems in the 71-page book, reach to comprehend

“the search for unobtainable beauty…”. “just as we grow older and change, the cord that holds us remains…”. And to this he concludes,

“from the unexpected/beautiful art is found…”.

--Barbara Bialick

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