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The Instruments of Art
Categories: 21st Century, Christianity, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2005)
On the translation of power into love:
there is no intervention once it has begun;
and it has - begun. Fresh are the pastures, and above
snow-drifts, crocus-fingers reach towards sun.
from 'The Artist: I Condemned to Death'
The Instruments of Art uses poetry to explore the lives and works of Edvard Munch, Vincent Van Gogh and others, the personal sacrifice involved, the singular vision and inspiration that set them in motion. God's creation, some argue, is a work of art, and Christ's life and death an expression of it. Deane follows this thread in a series of sonnets based on the Stations of the Cross. Another series of poems takes John the Evangelist, 'the one whom Christ loved', as the voice of a poet expressing the hard love and personal commitment demanded by Christ; Deane conducts this exploration experimentally, contrasting and complimenting it with his personal experience of faith through suffering and love. The Old Testament story of Jacob's search for meaning is retold through the poet's own memories of family and becomes an emblem of the universal search for truth and peace. This is a collection written by the light of faith yet shadowed by doubt; it develops an instinctive approach to art that offers an understanding in terms of the highest reaches of suffering humanity.
Table of Contents
I The Instruments of Art
Heirs to a Different Century
Late October Evening
Rhododendron, Fuchsia, Thorn
By the Banks of the Dodder
The Rowan Tree
The Meadows of Asphodel
The Instruments of Art
II The Artist
III The Old Yellow House
House at the Crossroads
The Old Yellow House
IV According to John
One for Sorrow
The Jacaranda Tree
The Divine Office
Of Misery: The Other John
Suffer the Children
Master of the Feast
Drinking the Spring
In the Teeth of the Wolf
The Gravity of Flesh
Lazarus, and the Migration of Storks
Carnival of the Animals
The Aftertaste of Bitterness
Report from a Far Place
The Light of Dawn
V An Exemplary Fiction
The Red Gate
The Big Men
Spaces of Peace
Age of Foolishness
Spaces before War
The Marriage Settlement
On Land and Sea
The Dromedary Caravans
By the River
VI Seasons in Hell
The Artist in his Youth
Boot-Prints in Snow
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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