Richard Patterson, author of Cor Meum Poetry, a work centered on his Christian faith, notes that the subject matter of his poetry had its “genesis in dreams.” The collection’s dreamy mood is expressed through reflections on an awesome god and the use of stark imagery, as if to say that the human soul is on an austere journey that requires fortitude.
Many poems are about mystery. For example, “Unknowable God” begins “A distant nebula exploding in space,/ a miniscule atom oscillating in place. / … / We try to discern as we go deeper/ but unraveling these mysteries makes us just weaker.” Patterson invokes the cosmos to show how small human life is within the sublime workings of a universe made by an unknowable god.
Melancholy plays a strong role in the book’s imagery. “In Moonbeam and rainbow,” the setting recalls “Ozymandias” by the 19th-century poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Patterson’s poem opens, “I stood upon the edge of a vast and empty/ place and gazed beyond,/ the emptiness could be my soul/ a vastness with no bounds.” Here, Patterson explores the idea that although we have no certainty, one must “step into the moonbeam’s path/ and claim a rainbow for ourselves.”
These are thoughtful poems suffused with the wisdom of an elder who has been through life’s ups and downs. The collection encourages readers to engage in an expansive vision of the human condition. Sometimes, however, the work lacks meaningful line breaks or a strong sense of music. It often feels more like prose with predictable pauses rather than verses that exploit the opportunity for multiple meanings that line breaks allow. Additionally, sometimes the speakers in these poems offer more declarations and advice than inquiry.
Nevertheless, readers who gravitate toward philosophical Christian poetry may enjoy the speakers’ sense of confidence, and will certainly appreciate finding more than stock religious phrases and platitudes here.
Also available as an ebook.