|Synopsis||Light at the Torn Horizon is a book of poetry about life's quiet moments by Dominican Friar Paul Murray.|
Light at the Torn Horizon is a short book of free verse poetry. Admittedly, I don’t have a great deal of exposure to poetry. My experience is primarily a handful of Edgar Allen Poe’s works and the beginning of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. That said, I will do my best to do the book justice.
There are no content concerns in this book.
The book is broken up into five sections. Each one has a different number of poems, and from what I can tell, there isn’t an overarching theme. Most are only one or two pages, with the text only partially covering the middle section of the page. The longest one is Canticle in Praise of Punctuation, at three and a half pages long.
The poems themselves were nothing like I expected them to be. The free verse style took me by surprise, but after a while, it didn’t bother me. Given that the author is a Dominican Friar, I assumed they would be spiritually-focused. However, a majority of them are quiet musings on a wide range of topics, among them mountains, pacifism, and punctuation. While that doesn’t mean the book is bad, it does at times feel like I’m missing something. For most of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder what so many others saw that I couldn’t. I still don’t know for the most part, but there were a number of beautiful poems.
The spiritual poems are where the book shines. Two of my favorites are Source and The Lost Time. Both of them are prayers — the former seeking after God, the latter giving Him awestruck praise. The main source of inspiration for The Lost Time appears to be a quote by St. Teresa of Avila. The quote says, “They usually say lost time cannot be recovered. But what is impossible for you who can do everything? Recover, my God, the lost time by giving me grace in the present… for if you want to, you can do so.” The poem then uses that as a springboard and gives God glory for all He can redeem. In that context, there are also two instances where the poet asks, “Why should I doubt your power?”
Another one of my favorites is The Failed Canticle. It starts with the narrator throwing pages into a fire because he can’t find the right words to write. As he watches the pages burn, he has an epiphany about prayer. One part says, “…I thought of that other fire, the immanent, invisible fire of God which burns both fierce and gentle, and of how, in that flame, even the poorest prayer survives…”
All things considered, I decided this book isn’t for me. However, I’m sure fans of poetry will get more value out of it than I did. At only one hundred pages, you can read its entirety in just a couple hours. Anyone looking to get into poetry may want to hold off on this one.
+ Beautiful poems in praise of God
- Hard to get into
The Bottom Line
There are a lot deep and profound works here, but if you're not a fan of poetry, I would hold off on this one.