Beauty Is My God: Poems from a Life Well-Lived

James V. Neely

Publisher: LeFevre Prress Pages: 191 Price: (paperback) $12.95 ISBN: 9780692901489 Reviewed: April, 2018

The poems in Beauty Is My God ruminate on themes of romantic love, family history, and the speaker’s aging process.

The lovingly presented collection is printed on glossy paper, each poem paired with a black-and-white photograph meant to reflect its content. For example, “Small Boy in the Window” appears across from a photo of a boy wistfully leaning his head on a window sill, a sprinkling of stars dotting the sky.

Many of the poems, often told with traditional rhyme schemes, center on the speaker’s recollections of his beloved wife and elegies to her passing. For example, in “On Letting Go,” he recalls his wife lapsing into a coma and telling doctors to “Let nature take its course.” At the end, he professes his profound love: “As with no other woman,/ I gave her all I had./ I hope she took it with her/ And I hope that she was glad,/ And knew I truly loved her/ Like no other ever had.”

He also expresses the desire to live well to the end of his own life, as in the credo-refrain of the title poem, “Beauty is my God,/ Art and craftsmanship my prayer,/ If I pray my own or others’/ Matters not if beauty’s there.” Many poems show the speaker moving on; still others reflect on childhood.

While delivering strong emotion, the poems suffer from some common flaws. Overall, they are predictable and repetitive in tone, relying more on exposition than distinctive imagery. Often, they utilize clichés (“My entire being cries out for you”; “Friendship is a flower/ That grows and buds and blooms”). Many incorporate antiquated diction that distracts from the content’s contemporary nature (“Laugh thou to high heaven/ Where that glorious orb, the sun, doth shine”).

While unlikely to appeal to fans of sophisticated poetry, this is a heartfelt work that may touch others who relate to the speaker’s struggles. It is best suited for habitual readers of light-verse and self-help/inspirational genres.

Author's Current Residence
Denver, Colorado
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