Tuesday, May 29, 2012

All The Missing Names Of Love - A Review

Discovering All The Missing Names Of Love motivated me to do two things I have never done before: buy something online, and write a review. The first was easy; the second, definitely not so much.

Reading blogging friend Roselle Angwin's beautiful posts over at Qualia and Other Wildlife, I knew her new book of poetry would be worth reading, and now having read it, definitely worth sharing.

Like the tapestry by Anne Jackson on the book cover, Roselle’s poems interweave her thoughts and feelings with a sympathetic vision of the natural world to which she is clearly attuned.

In his haiku Nazuna (The Shepherd’s Purse), Basho was captured in an instant by the beauty of a lowly weed, then captured the moment in a poem:

When I look carefully –
Nazuna is blooming
Beneath the hedge.

Roselle does this too. By capturing moments that captured her, she captures us. This is from Tracks:

Now, dawn; the stillness
broken only by a clattering tractor
and its retinue of gulls.

As in On Staffa:

… It’s in these moments

that we remember the truths behind words;
and recover an ancient longing; and our
kinship, our covenant, with wild.

True to the title of the book, Roselle invites us to share her view of love from many different vantage points.

This is Rosa Canina:

Rain, milky with mist, has gently
erased the moorland distances.

Lanes are at their heartbreaking
fullest: buttercup, bluebell, campion,
Queene Anne’s lace, buds of dog rose.

And this is also an act of love:
to see another over a threshold.

Love of nature, animals, friends, lovers, parents; joy in their life, and sadness in their passing and decline.

I’m going to turn off my commentary here. These excerpts easily speak for themselves.

From Wild Garlic:

Everyone we love will leave us eventually,
or we’ll leave them. That’s what the wise vicar
said at that wedding blessing all those years ago.
Knowing that, how can I not love you fully?

From All The Missing Names Of Love:

Today I’m obsessed by things transient
or lost: the dog dead for fifteen years
who today lapped water in the kitchen
at noon, even though I couldn’t see her;

my father’s mislaid past; or the names
that slip through my mother’s grasp
like the minnows we’d try to catch
up to our childish knees in the Vellator streams …

From Rain Dharma:

Rain settling in like conversation between
lifelong friends; rain, plants, stone, birds
at ease with themselves and each other, at ease
with how the world needs to be.

From After Midsummer:

My mum is so light now I can
carry her in one chamber of my heart.

From Going into the meadow after the retreat:

the horse’s light breath on my cheek
the way he delicately politely

only just
meeting my eyes reads my face
hands hair with his gentle muzzle

as if he smells
questions, as if I were an event
blown in on the whirling wind

as if
from within the zero
of Zen in which he dwells

he barely
recognizes me, each thing wholly
new, every encounter the first.

From South Cerney Sonnets     ii Cotswold Water Park: Plate Movement:

The layers beneath our feet are provisional
as anything else; time swallows its tail
and I’m afraid. Hold me. …

From On not going over the lip of a waterfall in an oil-drum:

                               Tell me again
what you said about love;
speak it again – the one
about two bodies’ heat,
the one about crossing the water.
Tell me again.

From This rain, the window open:

Still I lie on the roomward side
of the bed
after all these years

wash the pillowslips
on which I never lie
when I wash my own
put them out to dry
billowing in the salt wind
and reinstall them

neither foam nor feathers
ever as good a pillow
as his chest

for my parents:

i Alzheimer’s
Once she found a goldcrest’s nest,
tucked it carefully in a crook, made sure
the entrance was clear and open.
Recently the winds have blown it far
from the tree, are gently taking it apart.

ii Stroke
The last dominoes perch unsteadily.
The rest have fallen so that their black
sides are uppermost, the numbers
and the narrative mostly obscured.

From Whiteout:

… On that high crest
the snowdrifts fell and fell and were chest-height
and head-height and then filled the lane till

even hedges were eclipsed, the white drift a foretaste
of what later would take my mother’s brain and gently erase it.

From Let there be peace:

Let me go in a breath of applewood smoke from the mountains
Release a white mare into the hills for me
Whisper my name into her ear
Let her go.

Thank you, Roselle.


  1. David, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes at your care in COPYING OUT those passages, as well as your generosity in choosing to review my book in the first place.

    There are many acts of love, and those are two.

    A deep bow of warmth and gratitude to you, my friend.


    1. A deep bow back, Roselle. As I tweeted, it would have been positively greedy of me not to share such a treasure!

  2. Thank you for sharing these quotes--so beautiful and thought-provoking. I think it would be a wonderful source for prayer. I must see if I can find this book!

    1. Hi Sr. Ann Marie, so nice of you to drop in! I ordered my copy from the publisher Indigo Dreams.

  3. thank you for sharing this wonderful work -- the lines from Wild Garlic especially touching. I will happily add this book to my collection.

    1. I had trouble putting it on the bookshelf after I finished it - I had to read it a couple of times more. Finally it sits next to Mary Oliver and David Whyte.

  4. How amazing to obliquely be compared to Mary Oliver and David Whyte, almost, David!

    Sr Ann Marie – how kind of you. The poems in this collection are mostly personal meditations on love, loss, death and hope. Last year's collection, 'Bardo' ('Shearsman Books'), contains poems that are somehow more abstract and bigger in compass, and include too Buddhist-type reflections that to my mind have a Franciscan flavour (in a different life I might have gone that way; and by the way my sister is just about to - not sure of the word - 'be ordained'? 'take office'? as a lay Franciscan, and I forwarded her yesterday a link to your blog from this site of David's) - I wonder whether they might better suit the notion of 'prayer'? I'm not plugging my books, though! – just wondering which one you might find mostly closely fits prayer... But I guess the approach to the sacred that underpins a person's work or life manifests in any form.

    Taradharma – v touched by your response, too. Thank you.

    Deep bows to you all!


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