The HyperTexts

42 Poems in Rhyme & Meter
by Mary Keelan Meisel
ISBN 0-9733301-6-3
60 pages at 21.95 US, 26.95 CAN
MULTICULTURAL BOOKS
307 Birchwood Court
6311 Gilbert Rd.
Richmond, BC, V7C3V7
 
Review by Laurel Johnson
 
I admire MULTICULTURAL BOOKS, editor Joe Ruggier, and sponsor Michael Burch for their vision and philosophy.  Not many small presses would reprise the work of a lesser-known poet who died in 1965. I understand that every small business must keep a chary eye on the bottom line, but sometimes a labor of love is in order to promote excellence. This publisher produces quality work, and Meisel's work is excellent.
 
Born in 1889, Mary Keelan Meisel was physically disabled and struggled to recover from a mental breakdown through many of her adult years. Despite those afflictions, there is a joyful, quietly powerful music in her words.  Yes, she contemplates death but is never morose.  Consider, for example, the last two lines of "I Would Go Out:"
 
          I must have space when Death's swift shadow falls
          so that my wings may spread for my last flight.
 
Her pain and failing strength surely must have been a burden, but she buffers such trials with small modicums of near joy, as in this excerpt from "To a Seagull:"
 
          You make me wistful gazing at your flight
          strong white wings swimming lazily in space,
          when I am bound to earth and weary quite
          of repetitious days in this dull place.
 
She creates words artfully out of emotion, in simple ways that often lift the spirit and allow the reader's imagination to soar along with hers. Four lines from "I Have Loved Little" have lingered in my mind from first reading:
 
          I have loved little who would now love well;
          but can one take a heart and make it over?
          I have run lightly through the asphodel,
          and danced among the bluebells and the clover.
 
Her work is extraordinary when she writes of imagined people, places, and events.  "Veronica" is an amazing praise psalm; "The Heart of McMurragh" a glorious, bittersweet Gaelic love song; and "Paddy Finucane" a triumphant ode to Celtic warriors. I would do them an injustice to quote small excerpts. These are poems equal to the classic poets we all know and admire.
 
Meisel's heart knew "Sorrow's gentle, melancholy touch" but she also celebrated "the sweet carillons of light laughter." Editor Ruggier believes Meisel's poems to be one of the chief glories of North American Literature. After reading her work, I must agree.
 
Reviewed by Laurel Johnson for Midwest Book Review
Johnson@diodecom.net October 29, 2005

The HyperTexts