Sacred Works by Poets from Blake to Rumi
Guenther, Reviewed Charles, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
THE SOUL IS HERE FOR ITS OWN JOY Sacred Poems from Many Cultures Edited by Robert Bly 268 pages, Ecco Press, $20 BURNING BRIGHT An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Edited by Patricia Hampl 178 pages, Ballantine Books, $20
MANY ANTHOLOGIES of devotional, religious and mystical poetry are in print for readers with broad or specific tastes. "Sacred" poetry is a rather indefinite term, allowing editors to be less restrictive in their choices.
By coincidence, these two collections of sacred poems, edited by Minnesota poets, have appeared simultaneously, bearing striking similarities - and differences too. For instance, each collection shows fresh, unusual choices of poets, including Eastern mystics Ayttar and Rumi (13th century) and younger Americans (Linda Gregg and Mary Oliver, for example). Although at least 18 poets are the same in each volume, the selections are nearly all different.
Each book also contains old, familiar names found in earlier, similar anthologies: William Blake, John Donne, George Herbert, G. …