Carolyn Griffin’s Melody of Love is a collection of faith-based poetry and short prayers.
The collection contains 114 lineated and prose poems, interspersed with 54 accompanying prayers, each beginning “Dear God” and concluding “With all my love, Your child.” Most poems are preceded by a biblical epigraph, with its message echoed in the verse that follows.
Griffin is clearly passionate about her Christian faith and knowledgeable about the Bible. However, her explicitly evangelical collection tends toward redundancy, reiterating the same message of the healing power of God’s love, e.g.: “A wondrous thing this Savior did,/ to die for my blessing!/ I kneel before a cross of pain./ Me, He’s now possessing!” and “Thank You, Lord, for the lessons taught./ I am truly Your possession./ I praise Your blessed, blessed name/ for a love beyond expression.”
The corresponding prayers are likewise redundant and virtually indistinguishable in tone and style from the poems that surround them, e.g. “…I’m no longer bound by earthly things, lifted beyond the realities of this world into Your heart.”
Griffin’s poetry relies on telling rather than showing. When readers reach the end of Melody of Love, they will believe the speaker’s pronouncement that she is “going to do a lot of praising for all eternity,” but they have not experienced how her religious awakening came about or how her faith informs her real-world choices. Instead of specific lived experiences and memorable sensory details, Griffin inundates readers with litanies of abstractions: “in all His wisdom,” “gentle hope,” “deep gladness,” “Your sweet grace,” and “Glory fills me.”
While readers are likely to understand what Griffin means in intellectual terms, they aren’t likely to be emotionally or viscerally moved because nothing unique or particular is revealed about her speaker’s life.
In its current form, this collection is more likely to appeal to habitual readers of light/inspirational, religious/spiritual, and self-help verse than to serious readers of contemporary poetry.