Judith Franklin’s Musings of a Soul is a poetry collection that imparts familiar Christian messages.
The book is comprised of 13 free-verse poems arranged as a glossy, large-print reader, each accompanied by a brightly colored illustration. The collection’s aesthetic, particularly the artwork, is reminiscent of a children’s Bible or children’s songbook. However, the poems, written largely in uppercase letters, employ formal, sometimes antiquated diction characteristic of religious and inspirational verse for adults, as in “WITH THY LOVE IN MY HEART, THY GRACE IN MY SOUL” or “OH! JERUSALEM, HOW GREAT YOUR SHAME!/ THOUGH UNWORTHY TO SPEAK HIS HOLY NAME.”
Sometimes, the poems read as prayers, as in “CRY OF THE LAMB”: “COME DOWN, PRECIOUS LORD, TO THIS, THY LAMB,/ LIFT ME, SOOTHE ME, WITH THY SHEPHERD’S TOUCH.” Most offer predictable themes of mortal weakness and the need for heavenly intervention.
A major drawback here is the lack of original imagery and fresh perspective on the Christian tradition. For instance, in “FATHER,” the speaker writes, “I HAVE: LOVE FOR YOU;/ SORROW FOR MY SINS;/ NEED OF YOUR AID;/ HOPE FOR MY SALVATION;/ JOY IN YOUR CREATION.” The poem is written entirely in abstract language, resulting in an expository litany of ideas rather than one of powerful sensory details.
Another limitation is that readers never become acquainted with a unique speaker or follow a speaker’s journey to and through his/her faith. Instead, the poems are narrated by a generic voice reiterating beliefs familiar to most Christians: “HIS NAIL-SCARRED HANDS, WOULD RAISE UP/ THOSE, HIS LAMBS, TO PARADISE, SET FREE!” and “Our many changing emotions bring these tears;/ While invisible to others, yet mercifully transparent;/ To the Creator, Who witnesses and counts them…”
Given the juxtaposition of artwork that seems oriented to children and poetry more accessible to adults, the collection’s intended audience is unclear. While the work lacks the craft of more accomplished fare, it could possibly appeal to habitual readers of Christian verse.
Also available as an ebook.