Poems Every Catholic Should Know
Publication Date: December 5, 2016
Format: Imitation Leather
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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...