Poems Every Catholic Should Know
Publisher: TAN Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2016
Format: Imitation Leather
This anthology provides some of the finest Christian verse written during the second millennium of Christianity.
All of the great ones are here: Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Dante and Chaucer from the High Middle Ages; Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and John Donne from the Reformation; English and American Romantics such as Browning and Whittier; late nineteenth-century mystics like Dickenson and Hopkins, as well the great converts of that period like Newman and Chesterton.
A conscious attempt was made to meet both the standards of academia and the tastes and sensibilities of the faithful.
The selections are arranged chronologically to serve also as a history of verse.
Brief biographical and anecdotal introductions reveal the varied relationships of the poets with each other and with the trials and tribulations of their day.
This magnificent collection is essential for all poetry lovers for those who respond to the beauty of the written word penned in the service of spiritual truth.
Joseph Pearce is an English-born writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is known for a number of literary biographies, many of Catholic figures. Formerly aligned with the National Front, a white nationalist political party, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1989, repudiated his earlier views, and now writes from a Catholic perspective. He is a co-editor of the St. Austin Review and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press. He also teaches Shakespearian literature for Homeschool Connections, an online Catholic curriculum provider.
The book is beautifully and sturdily bound, as is now invariably the case with the new TAN Publishers.(The old TAN had some wonderful titles but so many of mine are now held together with elastic bands.)
The selection of poems belies its title. There are a good number of old familiar pieces from those one would expect: Chesterton, Belloc, Hopkins, Crashaw and others. He even included an old favourite of mine in Coventry Patmore's The Toys. Overly sentimental for some but it moves me every time. And there are a fair number of unexpected poets for an anthology denominated Catholic: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson and probably most of the English greats. Without doubt great poets but the Catholic relevance seems strained in many cases.
And, yes, this is almost entirely an English anthology. Unless I have missed someone (it's been known to happen) there are two Scottish poets in George MacDonald and Alexander Mongmerie, one Irish poet in Oscar Wilde, and two and a half American poets in Whittier, Longfellow and Theodore Maynard, the last of whom lived in both England and America. So something by Abraham Cowley but nothing by John Bannister Tabb, Leonard Feeney, or Jessica Powers. Joyce Kilmer's reputation hasn't survived into the 21st century but there was a time you couldn't leave grammar school without knowing “Trees” or “Prayer of a Soldier in France”. But he doesn't exist in this volume. A good part of American Catholicism wouldn't care, but if you're a southern Catholic Fr Abram Ryan is sorely missed.
And if anyone of Irish background were looking for poems of his Catholic heritage this is certainly not the place to look. No Joseph Mary Plunkett's “I See His Blood Upon The Rose”; no Padraic Pearse's “Christ's Coming”; No Padaic Colum; No James Clarence Mangan. None of the great Gaelic language poets even in translation.
And other than one by the collector himself, the anthology peters out rather quickly at the middle of the 20th centur...