Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

View of a `Country beyond Words'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

View of a `Country beyond Words'

Article excerpt

POET Doris Peel traveled with a light but sure foot on the frontiers of the 20th century. Unheralded save for a following through this newspaper and some readers of The New Yorker magazine, her career spanned 70 years, three continents, and seven published works. Readers were attracted to her lyrical spontaneity, keen eye, and insight into many cultures and peoples.

But what held them was the tough-minded realism and hard-won conviction of the New Testament spiritual vision that lay just beneath the lines of her verse. Her poems got clipped, copied, frayed - passed to many hands as a shared currency of the heart.

At a time when much poetry has sunk into self-absorbed meditations on trivia and neuroses, Peel's work, intelligently affirming, is ripe for discovery in many parts of the ecumenical and academic worlds, as well as among the broader reading public.

Happily, that is more possible with the publication this month of a unique posthumous collection of Peel's poetry and prose.

"Journey to a New Day" draws mostly from work appearing on the Monitor's Home Forum page in the 1970s and 1980s. But it also contains poetry dating from 1960, and prose pieces from The New Yorker and a previous book.

The arrangement of "Journey to a New Day," done with obvious love and care, was itself the last project of the writer's brother, the late Robert Peel, a scholar and author of a major three-volume biography of Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper. Even as a book, this is a piece of fine art. Put together by a new publisher, Andover Green, it is beautifully illustrated with nine watercolors by artist Peter Ferber.

The collection captures the broad dimensions of Peel's vision - from the changing relations between a mother and daughter to the politics of crisis in Europe and the Middle East.

The poetry is strong, ranging from a piece in the Masterpiece Theatre mode - "The life and times of Elsie, Miss Birdwhistle," about a cockney servant girl who stands up to 'Is Lordship - to a spine-tingler, "O Jerusalem," an epiphany written as a jet pierces the sky over the Holy Land:

Everybody is travelling on a vanished plane:/ inextricably bound on the same flight. …

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