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A Little Book of Hours
Categories: 21st Century, Christianity, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (104 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2008)
Here, I thought, is where you must be,
this inland island, hospitium of trees and shrubbery,
low hills and heathland walks, blackbirds and silence; here
I will find you, God Incarnate…
from ‘A Little Book of Hours' by John F. Deane
A Little Book of Hours takes as its starting points John Donne’s ‘No man is an island’ and St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ’.
In a series of linked sequences, John F. Deane explores the meanings of ‘The Jesus Body, the Jesus Bones’, how each human being shares in a coherent universe in our world broken by wars and violence. Beginning with the simplicities of island life, the book turns to the politics of greed. King David, psalmist and warmonger, stands at the centre of the book, in passages that look at humanity’s destructiveness and creativity. Taking its cue from the Psalms, the book concludes with journeys in search of truth and meaning, and a meditation on guilt and innocence. A Little Book of Hours is Deane’s deepest exploration of the relevance of Christianity to our times. His music praises the beauty of wholeness in the world and mourns what is broken.
Cover painting: Harvest Light (1991) by Tony O’Malley, reproduced by kind permission of Jane O’Malley. Cover design by StephenRaw.com.
Awards won by John F. Deane Short-listed, 2016 Irish Times Poetry Now Award (Semibreve) Winner, 2011 Golden Key of Smederevo award
Praise for John F. Deane 'Deane finds the embedded music of particular moments - the inscape of them - and understands their cosmic vitality... [he] draws us into deeper listening and invites us into sacred, transcendent encounter.'
Michael P. Murphy, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry 2019
'John Deane invites all human beings, or pilgrims, whether Christian or not, to partake in his revelatory, redemptive collection... a true cosmic poetry for all of us, in all time.'
Patricia McCarthy, Agenda: Ekphrastic Issue
'Master-sonneteer, the Teilhard de Chardin of Irish poetry, Achill chronicler and gazer at the heavens, John F. Deane has created a real beauty of a collection in Dear Pilgrims.'
Thomas McCarthy, Poetry Ireland Review
'These are words of a poet who lives history, who breathes at one with the world around him. Deane reminds the reader that we live only for a short while on this rock in space but that that time is precious and profound. We are all dear pilgrims - whether we realise it or not.'
Dublin Review of Books
'These poems are rich, evocative, replete with natural imagery, searching to know and express the unknowable.'
Niamh Pattwell, The Furrow
'Deane's work has always been distinguished by the wholeness of it's vision, and the poems of Dear Pilgrims are no exception: the joy and compassion of his responses to the natural world are of a piece with his spiritual preoccupations, and gesture towards his poetic forebears, in particular Hopkins and Kavanagh.'
Caitriona O'Reilly, The Irish Times
'Both these collections (Dear Pilgrims & The White Silhouette by James Harpur) give the lie to the idea that it is no longer possible to think and write creatively and freshly about religion in modern poetry: both Deane and Harpur look back for some of their insights, especially biographically, but their poetry remains conspicuously watching, tasting and touching today's world.'
'There is light and muscularity in these poems that sometimes unexpectedly recalls Ted Hughes'
'On a simple level, the poems in John F Deane's Semibreve (Carcanet) are elegies for the past and specifically for a lost brother. More profoundly, they teach us how bereavement, touched by a poet's tongue, can become a shared gift: "wonders of the flesh and spirit, a road-map for a shattered faith"'.
The Guardian 'Music, a stony, damp and deeply alive landscape (both Ireland and the Holy Land), a passionate and searching engagement with God - specifically with the local and physical God that is the central figure of the gospels - these are poems with all of John Deane's familiar richness. A deeply welcome collection.'
Rowan Williams 'Deane is a true poet. I have not space here to do him justice'
Helena Nelson, Ambit 'Deane is an exemplary poet.'
Gerard Smyth, Warwick Review
'The power of Toccata and Fugue lies in its beautiful rendering of unbeautiful things. Deane takes as his subjects what might ordinarily make one turn away: road kill, snared vermin, kittens in a sack weighed with stones for drowning, a seal washed ashore to die, lambs taken for slaughter, worms hooked for fishing and snails tortured by a child. Yet there is nothing pathological about it. Compassion not cruelty motivates the speakers in his poems whose unwavering gaze attests to their engagement with these subjects.'
Georgia Scott, Poetry Salzburg Review Autumn 2002
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